Birch Island Fire Protection

The TNRD is proposing to expand the existing Vavenby Fire Protection Service Area boundary to include Birch Island and adjacent properties. This expansion would cover the area between the District of Clearwater and the current Vavenby Fire Protection Response boundary.

This page is meant to inform impacted residents of the proposed service, its impacts, public consultation, and the public assent process.

Referendum and How to Vote

The TNRD Board of Directors has initiated a referendum on whether to expand the Vavenby Fire Protection Service e to include the community of Birch Island and adjacent properties. The referendum will take place on Saturday, September 14, 2024.

Advance Voting Day:

Wednesday, September 4, 2024
Dutch Lake Community Centre
209 Dutch Lake Rd, Clearwater, B.C., V0E 1N2
8 am to 8 pm

General Voting Day:

Saturday, September 14, 2024
Birch Island Community Park
1685 Birch Island Lost Creek Rd, Birch Island, B.C., V0E 1N1
8 am to 8 pm

Qualified electors may choose to submit a mail-in ballot instead of voting in person.

Applications to vote by mail can be made anytime until September 12, 2024 at 4:00 pm. Mail Ballots must be received by the TNRD by September 13, 2024 at 4:00 pm.

If your application is completed correctly and on time, the TNRD will send you a mail ballot package on August 15, 2024, or anytime after if your request is after that date. Arrangements can also be made to pick up your mail ballot package at the TNRD administrative office.

There is no need to pre-register to vote. Registration of qualified electors will take place at the time of voting.

You will be required to make a declaration that you meet the following voting requirements:

  • 18 years of age or older on general voting day;
  • Canadian citizen;
  • resident of B.C. for at least 6 months immediately before the day of registration;
  • resident of, or registered owner of real property for at least 30 days, in the proposed Birch Island Fire Protection Service Establishment area; and
  • not disqualified under the Local Government Act or any other enactment from voting in the assent voting and not otherwise disqualified by law.

What to Do If:

I Live in the Proposed Service Area: Resident Electors must produce 2 pieces of identification (at least one with a signature). Picture identification is not necessary. The identification must prove both residency and identity.

I Own Property but Do Not Live in the Proposed Service Area: Non-Resident Electors must produce 2 pieces of identification (at least one with a signature) to prove identity, provide proof of ownership (such as a tax assessment, certificate of title, transfer papers, etc.), and, if there is more than one owner, provide written consent from a majority of the property owners to one owner voting. Signed forms may be sent back with mail ballots or submitted on voting day.

Persons who reside or own property within the proposed service area and are entitled to vote in this referendum may also volunteer to act a scrutineer if they choose. 

If applications are received from persons who wish to volunteer, scrutineers for and against the question must be appointed. For more information, view the Notice of Applications for Scrutineers.

Proposed Service Area

Number of properties in Proposed Service Area: 131

To see if your property is within the proposed service area, click on the search function on the top right side of the map below to type in your civic address.

Public Consultation

The TNRD held a short survey in March 2024, which was intended as an opportunity for Birch Island residents and property owners to have their say regarding the future of fire protection in their community. Residents were able to take this survey online and by paper. Paper copies were provided at the March 5 public meeting, at Dee’s General Store, and could be printed and mailed from this webpage.

When: March 5, 2024, 6:30 pm

Where: Vavenby Community Hall: 89 Vavenby Bridge Road, Vavenby, BC

This meeting was held to discuss proposed expansion of the Vavenby Fire Protection Service Area to include Birch Island. Residents of Birch Island and Vavenby are invited to attend.

Frequently Asked Questions

The proposed service would expand the existing TNRD Fire Protection Response boundary west incorporating all properties from the current boundary of TNRD (Vavenby) Fire Protection to the District of Clearwater boundary.

If approved, the the Vavenby Fire Department will be dispatched to any 9-1-1 public safety-related calls within the new service area.

All TNRD Fire Protection Areas include fire prevention and FireSmart programs as part of the service. This includes public education, support for FireSmart activities on landowner’s property, and property assessment and inspections, if requested.

The estimated response time from the Vavenby Firehall to the Birch Island Bridge is 11 to 14 minutes (15 kilometres).

In addition, the TNRD and the District of Clearwater have a mutual aid agreement. This means that, if requested, the Clearwater Fire Department will respond to calls within the Fire Protection Service Area. Similarly, the response time from the Clearwater Fire Department is also 11 to 16 minutes (15 km).

If approved, properties within the service area would pay the same tax rate as those properties currently within the Vavenby Fire Protection Service Area.

The Vavenby Fire Protection tax rate for 2024 is $1.07 per $1,000 of assessed value for residential properties. Business pays appropriately 2.5 times the residential rate, and utilities pay 3.5 times.

Historically, the tax level has remained around the rate of $1 per $1,000, and this will continue to be the target moving forward. The annual budget (which sets the tax rate) is approved by the TNRD Board of Directors in March of each year.

Tax Rate Example:

Based on the 2024 tax rate of $1.07 per $1,000 of assessed value, a home and property with an assessed value of $400,000 would pay an additional $428 per year.


(Tax rate per $1,000) x (assessed value of land and improvements) / 1,000) = annual tax amount.

Example: $1.07 x ($400,000 / 1,000) = $428

It is recommended that you check your most recent BC Assessment notice and calculate your own tax estimate based on your property assessment, as per the above example.

If approved the “Fire Protection” Service would appear as a line item on your annual property tax notice.

No. There is no need for a full-scale fire hall in Birch Island due to the proximity to the Vavenby Fire Hall. However, the proposed service would include staging a fire engine in the Birch Island area. 

A simple two-bay garage would be constructed at the corned of the Birch Island Community Park within 3 years of the service being introduced to Birch Island. Proposed funding sources for constructing a two-bay garage include using remaining Community Benefit Agreement funding from Trans Mountain, and additional revenue generated from the expanded tax base for this service.

(Photo: Example of a two-bay garage in Loon Lake)

Homeowners will likely benefit from insurance savings by being within a recognized fire protection area. We urge you to confirm this with your insurance provider.

Most insurance providers set premiums based on the rating from the Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS). The FUS rates fire departments based on several factors including equipment, training, and response distance.

Most homes within the proposed service area are beyond the 8-kilometre response distance from the Vavenby Fire Hall needed to be considered protected by the FUS. This is one of the reasons that the proposed service expansion would include construction of a two-bay garage and staging a fire truck in Birch Island.

There are other forms of revenue available to fire departments that can help offset taxes. For example, when fire departments are deployed out of their service area by the Province, they are paid for their services. All revenue from provincial deployment goes back into the fire department budget. The TNRD has also been successful in receiving grants from Provincial and/ or Federal governments. These grants are typically used for capital upgrades or equipment purchases.

Specific to the Birch Island community, the remaining Community Benefit Agreement funding from Trans Mountain (approx. $13,000) is proposed to be used towards the construction of the two-bay garage for fire apparatus.

Fire hydrants are not essential for fire protection. The majority of TNRD Fire Departments operate in areas that do not have fire hydrants.  When fighting a fire, water can be supplied to the engine by a fire tender. Part of the planning process of expanding fire protection would be to secure water sources for refilling. This may include the installation of water storage tanks in strategic locations within the community. Irrigation systems and river access points would also be considered in the planning process. Fire hydrants would not be installed as part of this proposed service expansion.

If there is support from the community to proceed with a public assent process, the formal process would take place during the spring and summer of 2024. If approved, the service would begin on January 1, 2025, and would be reflected in the tax notice for that year (due July 2, 2025).

In order for fire protection service to be expanded to include Birch Island, there must be public assent from the electorate. The public assent process for this service would either be through a referendum or a petition. The TNRD Board and Local Government Act will determine the mechanism and it will be administered by staff. These processes are set in legislation by the Province of BC.

Referendum: A formal vote process is conducted in the same way as an election. A one-day polling station is set up in the community and eligible voters cast a ballot indicating either “YES” (I am in favour) or “NO” (I am opposed).

Petition: Petition forms are provided to each property owner. Property owners who are in favour of establishment of the service complete and submit their petition form before the deadline. Approval is received if valid petitions are submitted before the deadline from 50% of the property owners and the assessed value of those properties are 50% of the net taxable value of all land and improvements within the service area.

(Note: Eligible voters must be; Canadian citizen, resident of BC for at least 6 months immediately before the day of registration, resident within the service area; OR registered owner of real property within the service area for at least 30 days immediately before the day of registration, and not disqualified under the Local Government Act or any other enactment from voting in the assent voting and not otherwise disqualified by law.

Other Facts

Response Planning: An expanded service would mean that all properties in the new fire protection service area would be assessed
for response planning. Having foreknowledge of response routes, existing hazards, and any other unique characteristics will help the fire department respond more quickly, effectively, and safely. This planning work is also used during wildfires to make decisions around
how best to deploy structural protection within a community, to make best use of resources and time.

Fire Prevention: All TNRD fire protection areas include fire prevention and FireSmart programs as part of the service. This includes
public education, support for FireSmart activities on your property, and property assessment if requested.

About the Vavenby Fire Department

The Vavenby Fire Department is administered by the TNRD. It is a long-standing department that has been in place for nearly 50 years. The fire department is primarily funded through TNRD property taxes. 

The department is professional and well trained. Presently, there are 21 members. They are led by Fire Chief Philip Webber as well as a Deputy Chief, Assistant Chief, and four Captains. The fire department is supported by the TNRD Fire Protection Services team, based in Kamloops.

The newly-renovated Vavenby Fire Hall is two storeys and is approximately 6,100 square feet in size. It has four truck bays, a training/ recreation area, kitchen, and an upstairs office. The fire department has nine pieces of apparatus and special equipment.

Firefighter Recruitment

New firefighters from the expanded fire protection area would be welcomed and encouraged. TNRD fire departments operate on a paid-on-call model. All TNRD firefighters are paid for their time spent both training and
responding to calls. Becoming a firefighter is a challenging and rewarding way to serve your community. It does require a commitment to regular and ongoing training.

For more information, contact the Vavenby Fire Chief, Philip Weber, at, or contact the TNRD at:


TNRD Fire Protection Services

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