Wildfire Design Guidelines

The Natural Environment and Hazardous Lands Development Permit Area includes the wildfire interface zone along the periphery of the City limits, primarily around properties that abut forested lands. The Development Permit guidelines have been in place since 2008. However, our current regulations have not been updated in six years, and they no longer reflect the most current recommendations in the FireSmart BC program. Further, we now have proven research demonstrating that following FireSmart guidelines has made a significant impact on the survivability of the home in a wildfire.

Three major changes have been adopted in Development Permit Area 3-Wildfire Interface (see wildfire interface map):

Landscaping Requirements

  • One of the most effective shields against flames or an ember shower can be strategically placed vegetation. As such, landscaping is now incorporated into the Development Permit requirements.This includes two priority zones:
  • Priority Zone 1a 0-1.5m. A non-combustible surface shall extend around the principal building or dwelling and any attachments, such as decks or any others structures such as garages, and sheds.
  • Priority Zone 1b 1.5m-10m. This zone shall consist of fire-resistant plants and materials, as well as require maintenance for existing trees and vegetation.

Building Materials

  • Building materials required in Development Permit Area 3 now reflect the most recent recommendations in the BC FireSmart guidelines. This includes more specific regulations related to roofing materials, and exterior wall finishes. As well as adding new requirements for windows, chimney’s, decks, eaves, and vents.

Covenant

  • A covenant on title will be required for new development to ensure that property owners maintain their properties in accordance with the Development Permit regulations, such as vegetation management.

City-Wide Planting Regulation

While an interface fire is a concern, the most likely scenario for Nelson will not be direct flames but an ember shower from a nearby fire. Wildfire embers can travel as far as two kilometres, therefore the entire community is at risk, not just the homes adjacent to the forested lands. As noted above, one of the most effective shields against an ember shower can be strategically placed vegetation, specifically the vegetation placed within 1.5m (5ft) of a home.

As such, a City-wide planting regulation has been implemented that restricts highly combustible coniferous evergreen trees and bushes from being located near homes and structures. This regulation will only impact new landscaping; existing landscaping may remain.

More details on the changes can be found on the information sheet.