The City of Whitehorse is located within and surrounded by heavy boreal forest. The risk of forest fire is high due to a history of fire suppression and relatively little harvest over the past century. The likely effects of climate change exacerbate this risk. Average temperatures in summer and winter have already increased, and increased evapotranspiration is likely.
With 75% of Yukon’s population residing within Whitehorse, wildfire is a potential threat to life and property. Much of the forested area within Whitehorse is between 80 and 120 years old, while significant land areas around city limits have already seen fire activity.
Wildfire risk in Whitehorse is as high as ever due to a number of factors. Local topography, weather, and boreal forest influence fire risk. Human factors also contribute to risk: changing climate, minimal woodcutting within and around the city, ongoing fire suppression that inhibits periodic burning and forest succession, and the increased number and value of homes within the wildland urban interface.
In November 2020, the City of Whitehorse Council adopted the Wildfire Risk Reduction Strategy as a guiding document. The Wildfire Risk Reduction Strategy aims to move the City of Whitehorse towards four key strategic goals, over a 4-year period:
- Organizational Preparedness
- Encouraging and requiring FireSmart Canada principles on private property
- Removal of forest fuels on public land
- Enabling biomass recovery of forest fuel
Read the Wildfire Risk Reduction Strategy
The City hired TransNorthern Consulting to prepare the background documents for an eventual City Strategy. The following documents were prepared by TransNorthern Consulting:
- Risk Identification and Analysis Report
- Risk Evaluation and Recommended Strategy
- Implementation Plan for Recommended Strategy
- Recommended Wildfire Risk Reduction Strategy
Wildfire Prevention and Preparedness
Wildfire remains a risk throughout the summer. Fires outside of designated fire pits are prohibited within the City and are subject to fines. Please report fires by calling 911.
Updates about Yukon wildfires are available from Yukon Protective Services.
FireSmart refers to the ways we can live with wildfire. Learn more about protecting your home from wildfires on our FireSmart page. While you're there, take the quiz to test your FireSmart IQ and complete a home assessment.