More than 50 First Nations and local governments are receiving their share of more than $1.9 million in provincial emergency preparedness funding to help improve emergency support services (ESS) in their communities.
Funding will support communities building capacity to provide ESS through equipment purchases and volunteer recruitment, retention and training. ESS funding is part of the $189-million Community Emergency Preparedness Fund administered through the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) and supports programs that strengthen the resilience of First Nations communities, local governments and residents.
“It’s clearer than ever that emergencies can strike at any time, and it’s so important for communities to be prepared and ready to respond before they do,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “This funding will support First Nations and local governments to expand and build on their supports and services for evacuees and get ahead of what might come.”
The Community Emergency Preparedness Fund is a suite of programs divided into several funding streams. The Province is introducing three new streams this year to help First Nations and local governments better prepare for emergencies and the changing climate: public notification and evacuation planning; extreme-heat risk mapping, assessment and planning; and disaster risk reduction/climate adaptation, which includes flood-risk reduction. Intakes will also reopen for volunteer and composite fire departments; Indigenous cultural safety and cultural-humility training; emergency support services; and emergency operations centres.
“Since 2017, we’ve provided funding for more than 1,000 First Nation and local government projects through the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “We’re proud to introduce new ways for First Nations and local governments to access emergency-preparedness funding so we can better support people in British Columbia during their most challenging times.”
Budget 2022 provides $2.1 billion to support communities to build back better from recent disasters and to strengthen defences to make sure people and communities throughout B.C. are protected from disasters. From this funding, a historic investment of $110 million, in addition to previous contributions, is going to the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund, for a total investment of $189 million.
“Community emergency preparedness funding is critical to the continued development and modernization of emergency support services in our communities,” said Gerry Thiessen, board chair, Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako. “Emergency support services volunteers are the first point of contact for residents upon evacuation in an emergency event, and ensuring they are prepared and well-supported to provide compassionate, efficient services is key in getting evacuees the support they need in a stressful situation. The supplies purchased with this fund will make a significant difference to volunteers and emergency support services in our region.”
Since 2017, communities throughout B.C. have been able to apply for funding through this program for local priority projects that are designed to help mitigate and prepare for disasters and climate-related emergencies.
For more information about the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund, visit the UBCM website: https://www.ubcm.ca/funding-programs/local-government-program-services/community-emergency-preparedness-fund
A backgrounder follows.