Wildfire papers The resilience of the City of Kelowna: Exploring mitigation before, during and after the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire (PDF) By Dan Sandink January 2009 ICLR research paper series – number 45 ISBN: 978-0-9811792-0-9
Resilience is the ability of a community to "bounce back" from adversity. A disaster resilient community employs tools and strategies to mitigate the impacts of, and quickly and effectively recover from disasters. The City of Kelowna, British Columbia, suffered significant adversity during the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire (OMPF) of 2003, including significant damage to private property, homes, infrastructure, as well as an evacuation of a significant portion of the City’s population. The OMPF was a severe Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) fire event that resulted in the destruction of 238 homes, the evacuation of approximately one third of the population of the City of Kelowna, and was considered the most destructive WUI fire in Canadian history. Damages to the City of Kelowna alone were estimated at $100 million.
This paper provides a discussion of a resilient community, through the exploration of impacts, reactions and mitigative adjustments adopted by the City of Kelowna before, during and after the OMPF. The paper provides context for disaster mitigation decision making in Canada and British Columbia, including a review of relevant legislation and government programs related to emergency management. This paper discusses the adoption of mitigation measures in the City of Kelowna, as well as barriers that led to reduced adoption of mitigative adjustments, and obstacles that had to be overcome to implement measures. Methods for the study included meetings and interviews with key City of Kelowna staff, reviews of internal documents and literature reviews.