Wildfire protection upgrades

Fox Creek’s fire department is set to upgrade its structural protection trailer after council members voted on Feb. 12 to purchase the required equipment.

This new enhancement, with a maximum budget of $180,000, will elevate the structural protection trailer to a Type 2-unit classification, equipping the local fire department with the capability to safeguard multiple homes with sprinklers. Additionally, it will support one of the fire guards around the community until more resources arrive in the event of a wildfire. This proactive upgrade positions the Town to effectively respond to any potential needs during wildfire season this year.

During the 2023 Eagle Complex Fire, the Town required several additional structural protection trailers to protect the community from the approaching fire. At this time, the Government of Alberta adheres to the Wildland Urban Interface Guidelines, which delineates the equipment and fees that communities can levy during a wildfire. To charge for the use of the Town’s trailer, the unit must meet the standards set out in the guidelines for a Type 2. Meeting these standards will also allow the Town to deploy the unit and charge accordingly should nearby communities require help during a wildfire.

Town rallies behind push to release 2024 provincial wildfire preparedness strategy

Council voted in favour of supporting the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association (AFCA) after the association voiced concern in a letter to the Government of Alberta about the upcoming wildfire season and the need for the province to release its wildfire preparedness strategy.

The letter, signed by Fire Chief and ACFA President Randy Schroeder, states the association is very concerned about the potential for this year’s wildfire season to mirror the devastating events of 2023.

“These wildfires are occurring with greater frequency, intensity, and duration across more expansive areas than in the past,” reads the letter. “In light of these concerns and environmental projection models the AFCA is urgently calling for disclosure of the provinces’ wildfire preparedness strategy.”

Council voted to draft a letter of support, echoing the association’s position to Minister of Forestry and Parks and MLA Todd Loewen, as well as Premier Danielle Smith.

The release of the provincial wildfire preparedness strategy is important because through the process of claiming money back for the damages caused and support provided to the province for the fire in the Whitecourt Forest Area, it is apparent that the Government of Alberta depends on municipalities not only to provide support but to carry the financial burden of these fires. Currently, aside from what the Town is able to bill to wildfire and the portion that the MD of Greenview is willing to cover, the Town will be on the hook for 10% of the bill for a fire that was outside its jurisdiction.

2024 census to count shadow population

The Fox Creek 2024 Census will count what is called the town’s shadow population, or the temporary residents of the municipality who are employed by an industrial or commercial establishment for a minimum of 30 days within a municipal census year.

In 2019, the Town of Fox Creek conducted a municipal census that included the shadow population, which revealed the following results:

  • The unofficial population count for the community came in at 2189, representing an 11% increase from 2016.
  • The total shadow population was 400, including people who were in Fox Creek on June 3, 2019, have been in Fox Creek for more than 30 days in 2019, and work for a company located in Town.
  • Temporary worker’s dwellings, which include hotels, the RV Park, and industrial accommodations, accounted for 9.5% of the shadow population.
  • The total number of dwelling units in the municipality was 1133, representing an increase of 7.5% from 2016 (1054).
  • 5.4% of the population paid for childcare in 2018.
  • Single-detached houses continued to be the dominant (46%) form of housing in the municipality.
  • 101 people answered that they have lived in Fox Creek for more than 30 days a year but work outside of the municipal boundaries, which means they could not be included in the Town’s population count.

On Feb. 12, council voted to include the shadow population in this year’s census, while also supporting a budget of $20,000 to conduct it. The census will take part in the coming months.

2023 highlight presentation received from Fox Creek Food Bank

Council members were presented with an update from the Fox Creek Food Bank, commending the Town for its continued financial support over the years. The Town not only leases space to the food bank for its food pantry but also contributes to staffing costs.

As outlined in the Fox Creek Food Bank Society Report, the utilization of the food bank comprised 151 distinct adult users, each visiting an average of 2.85 times. Additionally, there were 55 unique child beneficiaries, with an average visit frequency of 4.40 times per child. Throughout the reporting period, a total of 287 food hampers were distributed, and 26 newcomer households in Canada used the food bank’s services.