At the core of fire and flood home protection programs is a deliberate intention to reduce the risk of adverse impacts of wildfire and flood events by empowering action from homeowners and residents. These programs allow municipalities to work directly with homeowners and residents to facilitate building of awareness of their vulnerability and provide assistance for carrying out effective risk reduction and mitigation measures. This approach engages residents to become active participants in reducing their own risk. Implementing such measures as property assessments, cleaning of gutters or tree removal can go a long way in protecting property and saving lives. The municipality seeks to reduce risk of loss from fire and flooding by encouraging risk reduction action by private property owners. Rocky View County surrounds the City of Calgary, partially straddling Calgary’s western and eastern boundaries and fully tracing its northern boundary. Its population of almost 40,000 is the largest among Alberta’s municipal districts. Because of its close proximity to the mountains and the Calgary Forest Protection Area, residents live with the threat of wildfire. Faced with this threat, and having experienced floods in 2005, 2009 and 2013, the municipality started forging partnerships with government partners and non-government organizations to develop its regional emergency management program centred around disaster prevention and community resilience.
Beginning in 2019, Rocky View County, Alberta. situated just outside Calgary, adopted a voluntary property assessment and protection program to increase the community’s resilience to fire and flood. This region has a history of flooding, with events occurring in 2005, 2009, and 2013. Furthermore, while they have not suffered substantial damage from wildfires to date, Rocky View County is located in a zone at high risk to wildfires. The County has begun offering free assessments for homeowners to determine whether or not there are features of the landscaping of their property that pose a fire hazard and, with funding supplied by the Candian Red Cross Society of Canada, will subsequently subsidize the removal of up three trees per household up to a total of $1500 per property. Further funding is also provided, on a smaller scale, to help fund the removal of branches and other hazardous detritus from a property’s grounds. This program was developed with a great deal of community consulting and has explicitly incorporated strong communication strategies and a reliance on disaster-preparedness networks to enhance resilience both on the individual and community scales.