Oak Bay’s disaster plan sets standard

Oak Bay Block Watch co-ordinator Matt Rutherford and emergency preparedness co-ordinator Sonja Ruthe

Emergency program crew has community well-prepared in the event of a natural disaster

If disaster strikes, Oak Bay is ready to roll.

The municipality, known more for seniors than saviours, hopes the United Nations will make it Canada’s second role-model community, a UN designation for cities that take a leading position in disaster risk reduction.

“We were extremely impressed with Oak Bay and the accomplishments already made there,” said Melissa Fougere, who is Red Cross Canada’s disaster management co-ordinator in Kingston, Ont. “It is important that your leaders are working for the community – and it shows how tight-knit Oak Bay is.”

Here taking Royal Roads University’s masters program in disaster and emergency management, Fougere and nine others completed an assessment of Oak Bay. Included in the report was a nomination the municipality will send off to the UN in Geneva.

The student group, which included firefighters, a critical-care nurse, members of the military and government public safety staff, assessed the municipality’s adherence to 10 essential elements listed on the UN’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

Based on the checklist, which includes assigning a budget for disaster relief, protecting ecosystems and natural buffers, and preparing risk assessments, Oak Bay passed with flying colours.

“For the community it shows the resiliency level and shows how hard they are working,” Fougere said. “It is a big accomplishment …”

The rating is something residents can be proud of and shows Oak Bay is ready in case something happens, she added.

To date, the only other municipality in Canada awarded role model status is North Vancouver.

Oak Bay Deputy Fire Chief Dave Cockle, who is also emergency program co-ordinator for the municipality, will fine-tune the nomination before sending it and a letter from Mayor Christopher Causton to the UN.

“This is a great advantage to us to have a group of emergency managers and future emergency managers (combining to) bring new ideas to the district,” Cockle said. The key to preparedness, he added, is to excel at the strategies included on the role model checklist for disaster emergency management.

Cockle said the likelihood of a tsunami affecting Oak Bay to the extent northern Japan was devastated in March is remote. He stressed, however, that Vancouver Island is in an earthquake zone and has frequent rainstorms and windstorms.

“We live in an area that is at risk for natural disaster – we have to be prepared for that. We are doing a very good job of identifying the risks to our residents and bringing those risks to the forefront,” he said.

“We use an all-risk approach. If you plan for an earthquake, you are going to survive anything else that could or may occur.”

While attaining the role model designation is still just a hope, Fougere said Oak Bay should be able to reach that status without a problem.

“Oak Bay is a beautiful community. It has a very strong community interaction and is very prepared for emergency management,” she said. “(We) were impressed with the council and municipal staff and see the level of engagement with the volunteers and community was fantastic.”

Oak Bay Coun. Tara Ney has followed the progress of the application.

“This is an opportunity to focus on initiatives that will allow us to effectively adapt to climate change. It has implications on heritage, ecosystems, land use and building codes,” she said, noting there is still much work to be done to round the program into shape.

“Council intends to continue supporting the Emergency Response Program so that we are in top form to ensure the safety of our citizens in responding to any emergency.”

editor@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria councillors want city greenhouses used for food production during COVID-19

Couns. Ben Isitt and Jeremy Loveday are proposing new food security strategies

Crash snarls early morning Malahat traffic

Traffic backed up near Okotoks Drive

Frontline volunteers bring handwashing stations to Pandora tent city and beyond

‘The basic premise of this is to fight COVID-19 … right?’

COVID-19: Access school resources with new virtual education hub

Shaw and EVERFI create onling learning resource for Canadian youth

West Shore podcast highlights COVID-19 pandemic and local businesses

Westshore Business podcast to look at how businesses handle COVID-19

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

World COVID-19 update: NATO suspicious of Russian military drills; Cruise ships ordered to stay at sea

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news from around the world for Wednesday, April 1

6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Quarantined B.C. mom say pandemic has put special-needs families in ‘crisis mode’

Surrey’s Christine Williams shares family’s challenges, strengths

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Most Read