KELOWNA – On a sunny summer day you’d expect Gallagher’s Canyon residents to be out on the links, enjoying the perks of having a golf resort in their own back yard.
Instead, they’re out raking strata owned land.
It isn’t your average backyard cleanup; Wednesday’s effort involved dozens of neighbours coming together to protect their homes.
A large hillside, covered with tinder dry trees and brush, is just feet from the community.
“If you lit a match here, really, this whole bank would go up in flames,” says resident Merv Vincent whose home is at the top of the hill, “and if that happened houses would go up in flames.”
According to residents, during the 2003 wildfires this neighbourhood was evacuated twice.
“It was just a sunken feeling, you don’t think there’s any hope,” says resident Robert Linttell.
Vincent remembers the morning they had to evacuate. “We were all out here [cleaning debris from the hillside] for the first time and there was just kindling in essence all over the place.”
Now, more than a decade later, they’re back at it again as a preventative measure. Vincent approached the strata saying a clean-up was well overdue.
The strata and neighbours agreed.
The Kelowna fire department has also identified Gallagher’s Canyon as one of the top four neighbourhoods in the city facing a high risk of interface fires.
It assisted with Wednesday’s cleanup through its FireSmart program, helping educate residents on how to protect themselves and their homes from fire.
The other neighbourhoods in potential danger are Quail Ridge, McKinley Landing and North Clifton.
Fire officials hope to organize similar neighbourhood cleanup events there.