It’s not a matter of ‘if’ an emergency will happen, but ‘when’ one will happen, Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness said in a June 26, 2020 statement. (Photo supplied)

Province supports emergency preparedness in communities

It’s not ‘if’ an emergency will happen but ‘when’

The Prince Rupert North Coast region including Port Edward and Haida Gwaii are comprised in the more than 100 British Columbia governments and First Nations communities which have been approved to receive share of $4.2 million in provincial emergency preparedness funding.

This funding is part of the nearly $69.5-million Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF), designed to help communities prepare for, and respond to, disasters, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General said in a statement on June 26.

The funding will help keep people safe, Jennifer Rice Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness, said.

“In Prince Rupert and on the North Coast and Haida Gwaii, we live with the risk of different types of emergencies, especially natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis. That’s why it’s important that we’re supporting local governments and First Nations in our region with this funding for emergency support services and operations centres.”

It is critical to be prepared for any possible emergency scenario, Rice said.

“When it comes to emergencies in B.C., it’s not a matter of if one will happen, but when. This funding is another step we’re taking as a government to help communities be ready for when disaster strikes.”

The money through the CEPF will fund emergency support services (ESS), which provide short-term essential supports to British Columbians impacted by disasters. It will also support emergency operations centres (EOC), equipment and emergency training at the community level, the Ministry statement said.

The local region will receive more than $109,492 to put towards emergencies.

READ MORE: Most B.C. residents, including those hit by 2018 storms, not prepared for outages: report

“I’m pleased to see so much interest from communities across B.C. in improving ESS and increasing the capacity of their EOCs,” Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, said.

“In B.C., local and First Nations governments lead the initial response to emergencies and disasters in their communities, and this funding will help give them the tools necessary to make sure everyone in B.C. impacted by an emergency is looked after and kept as safe as possible.”

The Province is investing more than $2.3 million in communities for the current ESS funding stream. This is in addition to a $1.9-million investment in locally run EOCs. An additional $600,000 is approved in principle, pending further information from communities. Since the September 2017 Budget Update, communities and governments throughout the province have received more than $48 million through the CEPF.

“This funding is another step we’re taking as a government to help communities be ready for when disaster strikes,” Rice said.

The statement by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General said, CEPF is a suite of programs designed to enhance the resiliency of local and regional governments, First Nations communities and their residents. The Province provides the funding, which is administered by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and is divided into seven streams:

* Flood risk assessment, flood mapping and flood mitigation planning

* Emergency support services

* Emergency operations centres and training

* Structural flood mitigation

* Evacuation routes

* Indigenous cultural safety and cultural humility training

* Volunteer and composite fire departments equipment and training

READ MORE: Rupert dropping ball on emergency preparedness

“Emergency Management BC has been working to modernize the ESS program and has transitioned to a digital platform for delivering supports to evacuees impacted by floods and fires. After a successful pilot program in 2019, and after being used in real-life scenarios, such as the recent flood evacuations near Williams Lake and in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, the evacuee registration and assistance tool has been launched provincewide,” The Ministry said.

The evacuee registration and assistance tool allows evacuees to self-register online rather than in person at a reception centre. This ensures timely supports and enables evacuees to maintain a safe physical distance during COVID-19, helping to protect them, as well as volunteers, communities and ESS partner agencies.

“I’m thankful to all the volunteers and professionals that work to make sure our communities are as prepared for emergencies as possible,” Rice Said.

“We all have a responsibility to help emergency services help us by being prepared ourselves. I encourage everyone to visit the PreparedBC website to learn more about local hazards, making an emergency plan, and building a household emergency kit.”

K-J Millar | Journalist
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