To keep people safer and more informed during emergencies, the Province is providing funding to 19 communities to develop and upgrade emergency-evacuation-route plans and public-notification plans.
“Recent wildfires in remote regions of B.C. have put communities at risk of being cut off from the rest of the province, highlighting the need for good, advanced planning to ensure residents are able to evacuate safely,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “We also know that First Nations and local governments have the most up-to-date information to provide to people to keep them safe. These funds will help ensure British Columbians can leave the area safely when a disaster hits, and will improve emergency notification, alerts and communication to people during emergencies.”
More than $880,000 is being provided through the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF) to communities to develop and update plans, such as local emergency-alerting systems, that provide information to people in the event of an emergency.
“When emergencies happen, First Nations and local governments are on the front lines,” said Jen Ford, president, Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM). “This pool of funding is instrumental in supporting local communities to prepare and resource themselves for disaster response and mitigation unique to their circumstances.”
Projects throughout B.C. receiving funding include:
- developing and reviewing evacuation route plans, geography, modes of transportation and other factors affecting the availability of evacuation routes in the Cowichan Valley Regional District;
- strengthening tri-municipal operational readiness for evacuations and enhancing overall integrated community resilience across the North Shore in the District of North Vancouver;
- identifying evacuation routes and transportation capacity, and developing an effective notification system to clearly communicate evacuation procedures to the community in the Kitasoo Xai'xais First Nation; and
- assessing the existing road network connecting 108 Mile Ranch to the surrounding area, identifying potential bottlenecks and obstacles, and proposing alternative routes, where necessary, in the Cariboo Regional District.
In February 2023, the Province provided $180 million to CEPF, bringing the total provincial investment in the program to $369 million since its establishment in 2017. More than $164 million has been provided to First Nations and local governments through CEPF for more than 1,500 projects that help communities mitigate and prepare for disasters and climate-related emergencies. The CEPF is administered by the UBCM on behalf of the Province.
Emily Dicken, director, North Shore Emergency Management –
“The Community Emergency Preparedness Fund has been an instrumental funding source to enhance resilience and support disaster risk-reduction and readiness activities across the North Shore. The CEPF granting process acts as a catalyst for collaborative multi-municipal and Nation-based projects on the North Shore, bringing together all three municipalities and two First Nations to collaborate on projects that directly enhance the resilience across all North Shore communities.”
Cari McIntyre, emergency planning co-ordinator, Comox Valley Emergency Program –
“The Comox Valley Regional Evacuation and Public Notification Planning project supports regional and mutual-aid partners to co-develop evacuation plans and public-notification systems that are grounded in traditional knowledge and technical data. This knowledge will support numerous project partners to work collaboratively on identifying, developing and informing regional communication and geographical pathways that support the safe movement of those who live, work and play in this area.”
Aaron Stone, board chair, Cowichan Valley Regional District –
“We’re a stronger community and region when we work together to safely navigate a local emergency. Cowichan Valley Regional District and Municipal Emergency Management relies on grant funding to improve modernization of services and ensure safe, compassionate community support during an emergency. The development of evacuation-route plans can minimize distress to the community during a highly stressful emergency event and assist hard-working emergency-support organizations by increasing awareness of safe and timely routes to evacuation centres.”
For more information about the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund, visit: https://www.ubcm.ca/cepf
For information about disaster- and climate-risk reduction, visit ClimateReadyBC: https://www.ClimateReadyBC.ca
To learn more about the Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy: http://www.gov.bc.ca/BC-Adapts
A backgrounder follows.