Telkwa sign. (Marisca Bakker photo)

Draft evacuation guide drawn up for the Village of Telkwa

Guide is in response to the Province trying to prepare communities better for emergencies.

The public and the Village of Telkwa Council had a chance to review a draft evacuation guide for the community this week.

Vanessa Howard of Calian Group Ltd helped to put together an evacuation guide for the Village and presented it to council at their last meeting. An open house was also held last Wednesday for people to give their input on it.

Howard said this new guide is in response to the provincial government trying to prepare communities better for emergencies such as wildfire, flooding or a rail disaster.

She said historically, there has been a lot of responsibilities placed on municipalities but not a lot of support and funding from the Province to provide a strong framework for achieving those responsibilities. The community emergency preparedness fund is funded by the provincial government and administered by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.

“In 2017, I think everyone can remember the wildfire and flooding season and the impacts it had across the province,” she said. “We had a ten -week provincial state of emergency, over 65,000 residents were displaced and there were a lot of lessons learned. There was a really critical report that investigated the lessons of that event from both the responders and the municipalities and also the public which was an important but often overlooked component to after action reporting. It was the Abbot and Chapman report. While that was being finalized the 2018 wildfire and flooding season began. There were lessons learned in 2017 and they were applied in 2018 but they were still in the process of really evaluating what those lessons were. Out of that report and additional reports there were a few critical things the province did, which brings us today.”

In addition to improving funding, the Province also looked at improving the tools that existed and one of those is the evacuation guide. A new guide has recently been released that was influenced by the Abbot and Chapman report.

The draft guide created for the Village of Telkwa is heavily influenced by the provincial evacuation guide, which is not a mandatory guide but more of a guiding document, Howard explained.

Telkwa’s draft evacuation guide includes a flow chart that is designed to help the people in the decision making roles during an evacuation to have a simple and rapidly accessible chart to guide important decisions.

“If there is an incident that occurs, there is choice between a tactical evacuation or a strategic evacuation. If it is tactical, department operating guidelines will identify and clarify what that looks like or if there is an opportunity for a strategic, then you look at if it’s appropriate and safe to shelter in place or evacuate. It walks you through the process as far as being able to achieve those objectives to keep your community as safe as possible.”

The plan also includes evacuation zones to allow residents to have a clear understanding of defined zones and help decision makers clearly recognize zones and have an idea how to evacuate depending on the hazard in an orderly and timely way.

“That efficiencies and orderliness gives confidence and reduces stress for the decision makers as well as community members.”

The evacuation zone takes into consideration the bridge and a disaster that might impact the bridge.

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