Tofino eyes emergency communications strategy

Tofino is hoping to roll out a new emergency communications strategy and is on the hunt for a volunteer willing to put the wheels on.

Tofino’s municipal council has agreed to attach a $5,000 stipend to a soon-to-be-launched volunteer position designed to kick-start a district-wide communications strategy for emergency situations.

Tofino’s emergency planning committee had lobbied for the position to be created and believed a stipend was needed because of the high-level nature of the work, according to Coun. Duncan McMaster.

 â€œIt was recognized that, with budget just upon us, it wouldn’t be feasible to employ a full-time person to work on communications and we felt there were some likely qualified people within the community that, if they were offered a small amount of money, we could get to at least start a communications plan,” McMaster said during a recent council meeting.  

 â€œIf we don’t kick-start this now, we’re going to lose another year and it’s been too long anyway so you’ve got to start sometime. We have a responsibility to the people in case there ever is a tsunami, or something like that, so we felt this was a good start and we envisage that, next year, you could see a recommendation for a full-time emergency coordinator.”

Emergency planning falls under the umbrella of Tofino’s manager of community sustainability Aaron Rodgers who told the Westerly News he hoped to have a description of the position in place and being advertised within the next month.

He noted the district does not currently have a policy for hiring volunteers but he would look to best practices used in other communities.

 â€œIt will be a higher level standard because of the nature of the work,” he said. “It’s a pretty serious job.”

He said the new position would focus on community outreach and bringing locals up to speed on what to pack in their grab-and-go bags and where to evacuate to in an emergency.

 â€œThe biggest thing we can do, to help us all in the case of emergency, is to be personally prepared and the whole point of this position is to get that message out there,” he said.

He said personal preparedness is key and Tofitians must be prepared to handle at least 72-hours of survival in an emergency event.  

The new volunteer could also help the district figure out how to handle non-emergency situations where Tofitians might be confused about whether or not to panic.

 â€œThey may help us develop some policies or procedures around how to communicate to the public when something’s happened that’s not actually an emergency,” he said adding the district recently went through a non-emergency event after an earthquake hit nearby. 

 â€œWe didn’t put out a lot of information to the community because there was no emergency so there was no emergency communications, but thinking back on that we realized there was still a vacuum there for information.”

He said the district’s willingness to shore up a stipend for the incoming volunteer signals an increased focus on emergency preparedness and he noted there has been talk about re-establishing Tofino’s currently defunct emergency coordinator position.

“I would suggest that allocating $5,000 to a volunteer communications person is an indication of us ramping up our capabilities,” he said.

 â€œOne topic of conversation for the committee is whether perhaps we might be needing an emergency program coordinator and I think part of this (volunteer) emergency communications position is, sort of, a precursor to that.”

The emergency program executive committee was struck in late 2014 and is comprised of municipal councillors, district staff, local emergency personnel and concerned citizens.

The $5,000 stipend will be taken out of 2015’s tsunami siren fund contribution and will not increase the emergency committee’s overall budget.

Tofino currently has two tsunami sirens and is saving up for a third, which will cost an estimated $80,000 to install, according to Rodgers.

He said Tofino’s tsunami siren fund is up to $55,000 as $20,000 has been set aside in each of the past two years and $15,000 will be added to the kitty this year after the volunteer stipend subtraction.

 

Andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Just Posted

“Intense” storms coming to Tofino and Ucluelet this week

“If you are near the water, it is important to be ‘Coastsmart,’ by staying above the high tide.”

Tofino and Ucluelet ready to clean Kennedy Lake

“You don’t want people to start thinking that this is a dumping ground.”

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

Tofino waits for new library

No immediate plans for end to library limbo.

West Coast Multiplex Society responds to survey results

“We’re actually very excited.”

B.C. boy denied $19,000-per-month drug to ease ‘crippling pain’ for 3rd time

Sooke mom Jillian Lanthier says son Landen Alexa has been forgotten about by Premier John Horgan

Body discovered in burnt out car near Trail

Police report a body was found in the burnt out trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic

VIDEO: B.C. Lions sign defensive back T.J. Lee to contract for upcoming season

The four-year veteran had a team-high four interceptions and 49 tackles last season with B.C.

How an immigrant to Canada helped Donald Trump prove his mental health

Test that cleared Trump was developed by doctor associated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

UPDATE: Friends mourn boy, 15, killed in Vancouver shooting

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Ex-BC Liberal staffer focused on ‘favourable’ ethnic communities in scandal: lawyer

Former communications director Brian Bonney’s sentencing hearing for breach of trust is underway

Island passengers say Sunwing left them stranded in Abbotsford

Company says late arrival led to difficulties securing accommodation, transportation

Most Read