Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) staff are looking to make sure residents throughout the Shuswap have a safe way out of their neighbourhoods in the event of an emergency.
Pending approval from their board of directors at the upcoming Nov. 19 meeting, the regional district will finalize an application for a $24,380 grant which will assist in the creation of more detailed plans for the evacuation of rural areas. The deadline for the grant application was Nov. 6, and it has already been submitted but board support is a requirement.
The target of the work, which will be funded if the grant application is successful, are communities in the area serviced by the Shuswap Emergency Program which have only one access road in and out.
In these places with a tenuous link to the rest of the region, CSRD protective services staff think a comprehensive plan is critical for large-scale evacuations.
The project will build upon planning work done in 2019 after the regional district received funds from an earlier grant they applied for through the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund. According to a report from regional district staff, the previous project identified gaps in the structure of emergency response operations. It clarified the roles of partner agencies, enhanced an out of date communications plan and created community evacuation zones.
Limitations of the grant funding received in 2019, coupled with the large and challenging geography of the Shuswap’s rural areas, meant that comprehensive work was not completed last year. If the next round of grant funding is received, it would be used to build community-specific evacuation tool kits including mapping, the identification of vulnerable people and a close look at the transportation infrastructure in the area.
“During evacuation response, tool kits will allow officials to quickly make informed decisions and provide tailored instructions to that community. It provides residents and visitors with clarity on actions to be taken based on their location and proximity to the hazard,” commented CSRD staff in a report to the regional district’s board.