The Rural Municipality of Piney is asking residents to get involved in planning events around wildfire community preparedness.  

From May to October, the RM is encouraging residents to host events and work on projects that raise awareness of wildfire risks and become better prepared for wildfire.

Chief Administrative Officer for the RM of Piney, Martin Van Osch, says wildfire is a significant risk for the RM of Piney.

"We've seen a number of wildfires over the years, and we know that nationally there's an increased occurrence of wildfires on the landscape."   

They are hoping to help inform and educate residents over the coming months about what people can do to be proactive in protecting their homes, cottages, or other buildings.  

Van Osch says they will be working with a facilitator to set up events throughout the coming months.  

“Once we've coordinated with the individual facilitating the events, we'll put advertisements in our newsletter to inform the public and get public participation in the events.”   

He notes residents don’t need to make drastic changes to their homes be proactive against combating wildfire.

“It is surprising how small little changes around the yard can really improve the resilience of a home during a wildfire.”  

He lists a few examples, such as removing clutter and debris adjacent to the home, not storing firewood up against the home, and avoiding planting deciduous trees up against the foundation of the home.  

“Avoiding things like cedar wood chips around the foundation is another great example of a change in landscape. Choosing limestone rock or crushed granite as a landscape feature, those features are non-flammable, so in the case of a wildfire they are less likely to catch fire and cause a devastating fire to your home or cottage.”  

The RM of Piney is also working on a similar but separate initiative; wildfire scenario planning.  

Over the next eight months, they will be conducting a scenario planning process to look at wildfire disaster management. The process will help prepare the community to prevent and mitigate wildfires as well as to respond in the event of a wildfire.   

They are looking for representatives from the community to work with a consultant from Bluestem Consulting on scenario planning around wildfires.   

Van Osch says it is intended to be as realistic as possible.

“As we meet, the scenario evolves and we are able to get information from the stakeholders involved in this scenario planning on how to be best prepared for a wildfire situation,” he says. “That's why we call it a 'living scenario' because the scenario changes from meeting to meeting, and we have to deal with how that scenario has changed and the challenges that it presents.”  

They are hoping to have 12 to 15 individuals from the community involved.  

There will be compensation provided to those involved in the three half-day sessions. 

He explains they want to work with residents, as nobody knows the communities better than the people that live within the communities.  

“Piney has a long history of getting ratepayers and community members involved in so many different processes that we initiate here, and as a result, I feel like our documents that we produce are strong documents,” he says. “They represent the community, they represent the community’s interests, and having the community involved in them makes us a more resilient community in the end.”  

Van Osch says this is a great opportunity.

"What will be the end result, is the RM of Piney will be more resilient and better prepared for wildfires because they are such a high hazard, a high risk for this municipality.   

He notes that he is extremely appreciative of the various organizations providing the funds.

“We're not going to the Province of Manitoba, we're not going to the federal government. These are third-party, non-government organizations that we're securing funding from to educate our community members,” he says. “It's an example where private and public partnerships excel at delivering a program, or in this case, creating a community that's more resilient to a disastrous situation.”  

To apply, reach out to Martin Van Osch at 204-437-2284 or Allison Driedger from Bluestem Consulting at 204-392-3849 or email