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Surge Narrows Wildfire Brigade

The Strathcona Regional District (SRD) has been requested to investigate the cost and operational requirements for an Outer Discovery Islands wildfire brigade initiative.

From June 13-15 2022, personnel from a fire services consulting firm called Tim Pley & Associates (TPA) visited the Outer Discovery Islands to engage the community about their interest regarding this matter. Their Final Report provides recommendations to the SRD based on the feedback and input they received from the Outer Discovery Islands community.

TPA has recommended that a fire brigade that operates at a Wildland Firefighting Service level, similar to the BC Wildfire Service, is an achievable and sustainable service level for the area. TPA’s report also recommends that members of the wildland fire brigade would be recognized as either volunteers or employees of the SRD for the purposes of section 738 of the Local Government Act which would ensure that wildland brigade members are covered by the SRD’s indemnity bylaw on the same basis as other volunteer firefighters.

Surge Narrows Wildfire Brigade Steering Committee:

The SRD is pleased to announce that the following individuals have been selected as members of the Surge Narrows Wildfire Brigade Steering Committee:

  • Jim Mallis (Read Island)
  • Ralph Keller (Read Island)
  • Rosie Steeves (Read Island)
  • Miray Campbell (Sonora Island)
  • Jody Eriksson (Sonora Island)
  • Scott Harvey (Sonora Island)

It was decided that an appropriate composition of membership would be equal representation from both Read Island and Sonora Island. No applications were received from any of the other Outer Discovery Islands, however, this membership composition also allows for flexible incorporation for representatives from the other Outer Discovery Islands throughout the process should interest be received from community members in those areas.

We are planning to host our first meeting on April 20th. The community will be kept up-to-date on the conversation from these Steering Committee meetings through email correspondence, the Surge Currents, and uploading content to the project’s website at

The SRD would like to thank all applicants for their interest and for volunteering to donate their valuable time to advance this community initiative.


 Please contact Shaun Koopman, SRD Protective Services Coordinator at 250-830-6702  |


FAQs – Responses to Surge Narrows Fire Brigade Survey

How was the survey disseminated?
The survey methodology included the mailing of questionnaires to all owners of property in the Surge Narrows area as well as the ability for anyone interested in the topic to submit their response on the Regional District’s website.

How many responses did the SRD receive?
The Regional District received 80 responses in total, 26 by mail and 54 via the Regional District’s website.

What are the next steps?
The Regional District will bring a report on the survey results to Board meeting on January 11th, 2023 and the Board will determine whether or not to continue evaluating this proposal.

How did people respond to the survey?
The survey asked participants to rank 5 different options in order of preference with 1 representing their most preferred option. The following responses were received.

Option Description  Priority 1 Priority 2 Priority 3 Priority 4 Priority 5
A That the SRD move forward with implementing a Wildfire Brigade service. 38 2 5 6 23
B That the SRD arranges for a virtual community meeting with residents and SRD staff to discuss this matter further. 8 30 12 3 20
C That the SRD establishes a Steering Committee comprising community representatives to discuss this matter further. 19 11 20 7 14
C If established, would you be interested in being a Steering Committee member please circle yes or no)? Yes = 13 No = 67
D That the SRD undertake another mailout to assess community interest now that a FAQ sheet has been developed. 4 8 13 28 22
E That the SRD take no further actions towards investigating this potential service. 15 1 1 5 52
F Other (please explain) 0 0 0 0 0

How many responses did the SRD receive from each area?

Geographic Location Number of Respondents
Sonora Island (including Busby Island) 27
Did Not Identify 24
Read Island 21
North Rendevous Island 4
Maurelle Island 3
Sturt Island 1
Total 80

The Regional District would like to thank everyone who participated in this survey. Your input is appreciated.

FAQS – Surge Narrows Wildfire Brigade (SNWB) Service Proposal

What would be the minimum training required for members of the SNWB?

• S100 Basic Fire Suppression and Safety and refresher S100A course as described in this section
• Incident Command System 100 (all members) and Incident Command System Level 200 (officers/leaders)
• Occupational First Aid level one
• Pleasure Craft Operators licence or Small Vessel Operators Permit (all boat operators); and
• Pumps and pumping training based on BCWS curriculum.

The funding for this training would be provided as part of the proposed service, members would not be expected to fund their own training.

What is the estimated cost for this service?

Tim Pley & Associates estimated that initial annual cost for this service is $52,000, with an average annual cost of $42,000 per year every year thereafter. Further details on what this would cost your household on an annual basis are provided on pages 5 and 6. The cost on these pages is based on the $52,000 first-year costs provided by TPA and a standard $2,000 charge that the SRD assigns to every new service to cover expenses such staff time to administer the service, legal fees etc.

It would be possible to for the SRD to incur long-term debt to offset some of the capital costs associated with the first-year costs, which would distribute the tax that is requisitioned for this service over a longer period of time (thereby decreasing the costs provided in Table 2. There are many potential options for debt financing and these options are not reflected in Table 2.

Would members be permitted to use their personal watercraft to respond to incidents?

Yes, however use of personal watercraft or vehicles to respond to emergency scenes will require operational guidelines regarding response safety and staging, investigation of personal and organizational liabilities and insurance, and consideration of adequate docking facilities at key locations. Over time, consideration could be given to the purchase of a fire brigade boat suitable for emergency responses.

Could wildland brigade members use privately-owned pumps and equipment rather than purchasing new ones?

The benefits of an established wildland brigade include the standardization of equipment. This would build upon the availability of privately-owned pumps that could be used while that equipment was being acquired. Privately-owned pumps could continue to augment wildland brigade equipment to build up an identified inventory of available equipment. Part of the wildland brigade’s ongoing work would be to periodically test any such privately-owned pumps that may have been made available for use by their owners. Once acquired, the wildland brigade’s own equipment would be dedicated to fire suppression uses (including training), stored in known locations and regularly maintained.

What would be the minimum number of Wildfire Brigade members required to respond to a fire?


Would members of the SNWB be authorized to provide professional support to the BC Wildfire Service?


Could the SNWB provide other services such as First Responder, Fire Prevention, Search and Rescue etc.?

While the TPA report does provide details about potential additional services the SNWB could provide, it’s important to walk before running. We feel currently the focus should be on investigating the possibility of a Wildfire Brigade level service first (as requested), and if and when that is established the feasibility of the SNWB members offering additional services can be investigated.

What are the next steps in this process?

That will be determined by the responses that we receive from survey during this engagement process.

Tax Rate Calculation

Using land and improvement assessments as the basis for allocating annual service costs it is possible to estimate the tax rates that would likely result if the maximum annual requisition was levied within the proposed service boundaries. The calculations in the table below are based on 2022 property valuations supplied by the Assessment Authority of BC and, while the property values within the service area will likely change somewhat year to year, the calculations are believed to be accurate enough for purposes of this study.

Table 1: Calculation of Annual Tax Rates* for Proposed Fire Protection Service


Assessment Class

Occurrences  2022 Net Taxable Values Conversion Factor Converted Assessments % Share Requisition Share Tax Rate (per $1,000)
1. Residential 230 60,178,800 .10 6,017,880 94.0 94% .8434
2.Utility .35
3.Supportive Housing .10
4.Major Industry .34
5.Light Industry 1 200 .34 68 0.0 0% 2.8676
6.Business/Other 7 286,700 .245 70,242 1.1 1.1% 2.0664
7.Managed Forest Land 14 1,046,000 .30 313,800 4.9 4.9% 2.5302
8.Rec./Non-Profit .10
9.Farm 1 5,600 .10 560 0.0 0.0% .8434

*Note: the tax rates shown for the various property classes is a result of the Province of BC rural property taxation system which uses converted (weighted) assessments by class when calculating tax rates.

Annual Service Costs 

On the assumption that the annual costs of maintaining the Wildfire Brigade service are to be collectively supported by the properties that derive a benefit from those services, it is possible to estimate the annual costs to be borne by the owners of homes, businesses and other types of property within the proposed service area and the table below provides an estimate of those costs based on the value of individual properties. Property owners can determine the estimated annual costs for their specific property with relative ease by using the rates shown in the table below or by multiplying the applicable tax rate shown in Table 1 against the assessed values shown on their most recent property assessment notice.

Table 2: Annual Fire Protection Service Costs by Property Class and Valuation*



Class 1


Class 2


Class 5



Class 6


& Other)

Class 7

(Managed Forest Land)

Class 8


Class 9


50,000 42 143 103 127 42
100,000 84 287 207 253 84
200,000 169 574 413 506 169
300,000 253 860 620 759 253
400,000 337 1,147 827 1,012 337
500,000 422 1,434 1,033 1,256 422
600,000 506 1,721 1,240 1,518 506
700,000 590 2,007 1,446 1,771 590
800,000 675 2,294 1,653 2,024 675
900,000 759 2,581 1,860 2,277 759
1,000,000 843 2,868 2,066 2,530 843

*This tax rate reflects the first-year cost of $54,000, it is expected that for following years the cost would be lower.


Should you have any further questions or wish to discuss this matter further, please contact Shaun Koopman, SRD Protective Services Coordinator at 250-830-6702 or