Landscaping & Development

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Landscaping

Are you planning to landscape or renovate? From small garden projects to entire home builds, there are many ways you can make your property more resilient to wildfire.

Before making landscape choices, it's a good idea to review the FireSmart BC Landscaping Guide for recommendations. The guide is full of great suggestions about regionally appropriate species, property layout, and plant care practices that reduce your home’s risk from wildfire.  

The most important consideration when landscaping is to ensure that the area directly adjacent to your home is free from all combustible materials and shrubs. Conifers such as decorative cedars and junipers pose a particular threat due to their ability to accumulate dry needles and material that can easily be ignited by embers. Because of this, the City of Nelson has enacted a city-wide bylaw that prevents the planting of any new conifers within 1.5 metres of all homes. The bylaw states:

a. No new or additional coniferous evergreen trees/plants, such as junipers and cedars, are to be planted within 1.5 metres of a dwelling unit, principal or accessory building as well as other structures such as decks.

For more information about building wildfire resiliency through landscaping, visit the FireSmart BC Landscaping Hub or use the Fire Resistant Plant Tool below to help select FireSmart plants appropriate for our climate.

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Development and Renovation

When wildfires occur, the homes that have been constructed with wildfire-resistant materials and designs have a far better chance of being left standing.    

The  FireSmart Development Guide is an excellent resource full of easy to understand tips for incorporating wildfire resilience into your new build or renovation.

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Wildfire Resilient Construction Checklist

Building Tips For Increasing Your Home's Wildfire Resilience

  1. Use Class A fire-rated roofing materials like clay tile, concrete tile, metal, or asphalt shingles.
  2. Design simple roofs to reduce locations where combustible debris can accumulate.
  3. Install < 3mm screened or ASTM fire-rated roof and soffit vents.
  4. Choose fire-resistant siding materials like stucco, brick, or fiber cement.
  5. Maintain a minimum 15cm ground-to-siding clearance.
  6. Install gutter guards and use non-combustible materials for gutters and eaves.
  7. Choose fire-resistant decking materials and ensure debris does not build up underneath.
  8. Avoid wooden fences; use non-combustible materials like metal instead.
  9. If using wooden fencing, be sure to create a 1.5m non-combustible break between the fence and the structure.
  10. Select fire-resistant plants for landscaping and maintain a 1.5m non-combustible perimeter around the home.
  11. Regularly clean roofs, gutters, and surrounding areas to remove combustible debris.

Wildfire Resistant Building Materials Report

Using grant funding from the Community Resiliency Investment Program, Nelson Fire & Rescue Services contracted an engineering firm to produce a report with a list of recommended building products that are suitable for the City of Nelson’s Wildfire Urban Interface Zone.

The report considers research from wildfires in Fort McMurray, Lytton, and other sources on what materials can increase a structure's resilience to wildfire, and narrows down these choices to those that are available and suitable for this region.

Click on the image to read the report or click here

Wildfire Resistant Materials Suitable for Nelson - Report
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Wildfire interface map, click to view 2

Wildfire Design Guidelines 

The City of Nelson is surrounded by forests that not only provide recreation opportunities and natural beauty, but also create a wildfire hazard that must be taken into consideration when building or developing.  Specifically, the periphery of the city contains properties located in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) where forests and homes meet.  In recognition of the increased risk from wildfire that these properties face, the City has developed new guidelines for the Natural Environment and Hazardous Lands Development Permit Area 3.  Based on recommendations from FireSmart BC and proven research on home survivability, these regulations address landscaping, roofing materials, exterior wall finishes, windows, chimneys, decks, eaves, and vents.

To see which properties are located in the Development Permit Area 3 click the map.

For more information on Wildfire Design Guidelines in the City of Nelson, click here.