More than 57 First Nations and local governments will receive funding to improve and modernize emergency support services (ESS) for people evacuated from their homes during emergencies.
“British Columbians who are forced to evacuate their homes often rely on provincially funded emergency support services that are delivered in partnership with First Nations and local governments,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “This funding will help communities build up capacity to better deliver these supports to people during very stressful situations as we continue modernizing and improving ESS.”
More than $2.2 million from the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF) will support communities to expand their capacity to provide emergency support services through volunteer recruitment, retention and training, including in-house training, and the purchase of ESS equipment.
The funds will also support the modernization of local ESS programs to move toward digital registration and reporting through the Evacuee Registration and Assistance online tool. This will help communities move to online ESS registration and allow direct payment to evacuees. Additionally, funding will focus on promoting knowledge sharing, enhancing mutual aid between communities, and allow applicants to act as host communities for evacuees.
Funding may be used for buying ESS supplies and equipment, training and exercises for ESS responders, responder recruitment and retention activities, and personal protective equipment for ESS responders.
Funding will go to 57 projects throughout B.C., such as:
- sea-cans for three sub-regions to store ESS supplies such as cots, blankets and generators and a trailer in the East Kootenay Regional District;
- emergency food rations in the event that an emergency cuts off access to Port Alice;
- equipment to establish a 100-bed group lodging facility in Abbotsford;
- ESS trailer and backup solar power system to enable McLeod Lake Indian Band to set up a mobile reception centre;
- an ESS volunteer recruitment campaign, training for volunteers, and laptops in the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen; and
- Emergency Pet Services Training through the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team, and a trailer for group lodging and pet services supplies on Bowen Island.
In February 2023, the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness committed a further $180 million to CEPF, bringing the total investment to $369 million since its establishment in 2017. More than $113 million has been approved for First Nations and local governments through CEPF for almost 1,400 projects that help communities mitigate and prepare for disasters and climate-related emergencies.
- On average, approximately 30,000 people use ESS each year.
- That number was higher in 2021 due to the wildfire season and November flooding.
- CEPF is a suite of programs divided into several funding streams, including public notification and evacuation planning, emergency support services, and extreme temperature risk mapping, assessment and planning.
For more information about Emergency Support Services, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-management/local-emergency-programs/ess
For more information about the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund, visit: https://www.ubcm.ca/funding-programs/local-government-program-services/community-emergency-preparedness-fund
Two backgrounders follow.