Chris Betuzzi, a member of the 108 Mile Greenbelt Commission, explains how fires travel and why fuel mitigation is so important. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press).

Busy year ahead for 108 Greenbelt improvements

Trail improvements, fire mitigation and fishing dock among the planned projects

Fuel management, trail improvements and pasture fencing are a few of the ongoing projects the 108 Greenbelt Commission will be undertaking in the coming year, according to its 2021 business plan.

The plan was presented at last week’s Cariboo Regional District board meeting, and highlighted seven goals representing hundreds of thousands of dollars of work in the 1,500-acre green space.

One of the biggest expenses, according to Lac La Hache-108 Mile Ranch area director Al Richmond, who sits on the commission, has been fire abatement over the past several years.

With funding from the Ministry of Forest Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, the greenbelt commission is undertaking $170,000 worth of fire mitigation work this year.

“This year we are also looking at $20,000 worth of fencing in Walker Valley,” Richmond said, noting existing fences are close to 25 years old and badly deteriorating.

READ MORE: 108 Greenbelt thinned to prevent fires

The greenbelt commission’s annual budget remains at $14,160 procured by a $10 parcel tax paid by 108 Mile Ranch residents and a few select areas of Watson Lake and 105 Mile, next to greenbelt land.

While much of the large-scale projects are supported by grant funding and a dedicated volunteer base, Richmond said that in the future there may be a need to reassess the tax parcel rate.

“Currently, we are managing with money we have been able to save and money from taxes,” Richmond said, noting the tax rate hasn’t increased in more than 20 years. “Until we have a dire need to do it, we aren’t proposing to do any tax increases.”

Though legally, the greenbelt commission could increase the tax rate by a certain percentage each year, Richmond said they have committed to discussing the issue with the community before any decisions are made, should the need arise.

“We wouldn’t arbitrarily raise it just because we could,” he said.

Other projects on the horizon include grade improvements on the 108 Lake trail near Kallum Drive, for which the commission has applied for a $175,000 grant. In partnership with the province, the commission is working on installing a fishing dock at the main beach, and this week the road to the beach was resurfaced after sustaining damage during the spring melt.

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