Helicopter Evacuations and Herchmer Road

There have been 6 helicopter medical evacuations on Savary so far this year. This is an unusually high number for the island. Four of those helicopter landings were directed to the southwest Medevac site on Sunset Trail.

The road to get to that Medevac site is along Herchmer Road, between Vancouver Blvd and Sunset Trail. The road has pot-holes as big as ponds in the wet season. There is sometimes so much water that the driver cannot see what might be hidden below the surface that could damage the FR vehicle. A large rock? A large root? So driving speed is limited to a slow crawl. The road conditions are doing two things that are potentially negative to patient outcomes: slowing down the time it takes to get to hospital; and rocking the patient around which is uncomfortable and possibly puts them at more risk.

Obviously, this is counter productive to the need for calling in a helicopter in the first place. It must change.

At the ASIC AGM in July this topic came up, and there was a positive response to the idea that something had to be done, asap. So ASIC is taking preliminary steps to come up with ideas and solutions that we can present to MOTI for their feedback, and to our local government (qRD) for funding and possible project management. So far, we have a great start from Steve Lackey and Marco Rowan, both from Indian Point, because they’ve done an initial plan for the 381-metre section of road. The ideal long-term goal is to upgrade the road so that MOTI will take over maintenance, to make the road safe year-round for emergency access. We do not know if that is feasible due to the MOTI standards for road building that we were given, which exceed anything else done on Savary roads, by quite a bit.

So the choices come down to building to those standards for long-term maintenance or do something simpler in scale, a community option, that will solve the problem for the next 10-15 years, and that Savaryites will have to periodically maintain by ourselves.  It’s too early in the concept stage to decide yet.  In the meantime, if you see some survey stakes along Herchmer in the coming months, they are just an indication of the full 66 ft road allowance so that private property is not touched during the upgrade. It is not the planned road width. The traveled road will remain where it is for most of its length.

Also, to clarify, there is no upgrade planned for any portion of Sunset Trail. The only upgrade being discussed is for Herchmer Road, just the section between Vancouver Blvd and the hill before Sunset Trail.

Patient Transport on Savary is Still a Problem

First Responders have to wait for BCAS Paramedics to be brought to a scene so that they can drive the FR vehicle. Every 9-1-1 call is far longer than it needs to be. This is especially significant when the Paramedics from the helicopter have to be driven to the location of the medical call, just so they can drive the FR vehicle and patient back to the helicopter.

It’s been 3 years since the rules changed around patient transport. The BC government has not given the SIVFD any hope of a coming change. So they are looking to reopen the issue this fall and winter. A number of ASIC members wrote letters a few years ago, and the SIVFD might need your help again to bring this back to the government’s attention.

Public Use of the Savary Island Conservation Area

A number of ASIC members have been asking about what’s now allowed on the Nature Trust land since they took ownership of District Lots 1375, 35 and 36. We anticipate that signage will be going up throughout the property in the near future, and according to the latest SILT newsletter, the Nature Trust of BC intends to begin the management planning process for the Savary Island Conservation Area in 2020. But for 2019, Interim Guidelines are in place for public access to these conservation lands. The public is welcome to enjoy the property for hiking and nature appreciation, but asked to please adhere to the following: No Camping, No Fires, No Motorized Vehicles.

FireSmart Rebate Program

Property owners who make FireSmart improvements to their properties can apply for a rebate for cleanup costs, even if you do it yourself. The program is limited so act now if you are interested in getting a free assessment and more information. Contact the qRD’s FireSmart Coordinator at firesmartpr@gmail.com or call 604-414-7839.

FireSmart will also be explained at the Evacuation Planning Meeting on Savary. Come learn about how to assess your property for its exposure to the risks of wildfire.

Outdoor Fire Bylaw Details

The new Savary Island Fire Bylaw was adopted on June 27, 2019. It allows everyone to better anticipate burning restrictions, as well as reduce the risk of wildfire in the hot dry peak of summer. Here are some of the key revisions to the old bylaw:

    • A maximum penalty of $2,000 for violating any provision in the bylaw.
    • Burn piles (i.e. backyard burns, contractor burns) will be prohibited during the months of June, July, August, and September.
    • Campfires will be prohibited during the months of July, August, and September.
    • Fire Chief can announce prohibitions at any other time of year if necessary.
    • Fire Chief can prohibit high-risk activities if conditions warrant it.
    • High-risk activities are clearly identified in the proposed bylaw.

It is hoped that this bylaw will reduce the fire callouts that still occur every summer on Savary. These 9-1-1 callouts require that the SIVFD attend and extinguish outdoor fires, incur costs to the department, and put the island at risk of costly and potentially dangerous wildfires. Download the Savary Island Outdoor Fire Control Bylaw No. 549 here: Savary Island Fire Bylaw No. 549

For further information contact Ryan Thoms, qRD Manager of Emergency Services, at RThoms@qathet.ca

Free FireSmart Assessment

There is a new program available from the qathet Regional District for assessing your property for its exposure to the risks of wildfire. To get an idea of what that means, watch their YouTube video: FireSmart Your Home. FireSmart Coordinator Marc Albert takes you through some basic steps you can take to reduce wildfire loss of your home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLHFPpdXaBY

If you can’t do the branch and debris cleanup on your own, there is also a rebate program for property owners who make FireSmart improvements to their properties. For a free assessment and more information contact the qRD’s FireSmart Coordinator at firesmartpr@gmail.com or call 604-414-7839.