Emergency plan reviewed

CVRD visits government services meeting to talk about regional disaster issues

Ladysmith council will likely renew the town’s Emergency Management Agreement inked with the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

Sybille Sanderson, the acting general manager of the CVRD’s Public Safety department, provided an overview of the agreement at the town’s last government services meeting on September 19.

“Our vision is that we work collaboratively to empower all the communities to be the most liveable, healthy, resilient and sustainable community in Canada,” she said.

“Public safety has a really big role to play in that.”

The Emergency Management Agreement includes the four municipalities from north of the Malahat to south of North Oyster, and includes nine electoral areas.

It was first adopted in 2001 and is renewed every five years.

Its purpose is to ‘spell out’ how the municipalities request, share and pay for resources used during emergencies.

Each municipality has its own responsibilities for emergency planning, but during a large-magnitude emergency, it becomes a regional management issue.

“We decided to do it regionally because emergencies don’t know political boundaries,” said Mayor Rob Hutchins.

Hutchins said Ladysmith is, for the most part, better prepared for an emergency than most communities.

Its emergency operating centre is set up at city hall and in the event of an emergency, Frank Jameson Community Centre is the town’s designated ESS (emergency social services) reception centre.

“We’ve done a lot, but we have a long way to go,” he said.

“We’re a hillside community and gravity doesn’t stop working in an earthquake.”

The CVRD has now established an emergency alert system to receive email and telephone notifications in such events as forest fires, floods and hazardous material spills.

Register at www.cvrd.bc.ca/EAlert or call 250-746-2564 for more information on the system.

“It’s a way that we can get messaging very quickly to residents and businesses,” Sanderson said.

“Before this, we’d have to send the fire department around and try and get people’s attention.”

The recent earthquake activity on Vancouver Island is a good reminder of the need to be prepared, Sanderson said.

“When things happen, we’re all in this together, and we really need residents to take emergency preparedness seriously,” she said.

“There is a real misconception out there that if we have the little ones we won’t get the big one and that is not scientifically supported at all.

“We really have no way of predicting that.”