Vancouver Island communities and First Nations are getting a piece of $4.2 million in provincial funding.

They are among the 100 local governments and First Nations communities benefiting from the nearly $69.5-million Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF), designed to help communities prepare for, and respond to, disasters.

This investment through the CEPF  will support emergency support services (ESS), which provide short-term, essential supports to British Columbians impacted by disasters. 

It will also support emergency operations centres (EOC), equipment and emergency training at the community level.  

“I’m pleased to see so much interest from communities across B.C. in improving ESS and increasing the capacity of their EOCs,” solicitor general Mike Farnworth said. 

“In B.C., local and First Nations governments lead the initial response to emergencies and disasters in their communities, and this funding will help give them the tools necessary to make sure everyone in B.C. impacted by an emergency is looked after and kept as safe as possible.”

The province is investing more than $2.3 million in communities for the current ESS funding stream. 

This is on top of the $1.9-million investment in locally run EOCs. 

An additional $600,000 is approved in principle, pending further information from communities. 

Since the September 2017 Budget Update, communities and governments throughout the province have received more than $48 million through the CEPF.

“I know how critical it is to be prepared for any possible emergency scenario,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. 

“When it comes to emergencies in B.C., it’s not a matter of if one will happen, but when. This funding is another step we’re taking as a government to help communities be ready for when disaster strikes.”

The CEPF is a suite of programs designed to enhance the resiliency of local and regional governments, First Nations communities and their residents. The province provides the funding, which is administered by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and is divided into seven streams:

  • Flood risk assessment, flood mapping and flood mitigation planning
  • Emergency support services
  • Emergency operations centres and training
  • Structural flood mitigation
  • Evacuation routes
  • Indigenous cultural safety and cultural humility training
  • Volunteer and composite fire departments equipment and training

Emergency Management BC has been working to modernize the ESS program and has transitioned to a digital platform for delivering supports to evacuees impacted by floods and fires. 

After a successful pilot program in 2019, and after being used in real-life scenarios, such as the recent flood evacuations near Williams Lake and in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, the evacuee registration and assistance tool has been launched provincewide.

The evacuee registration and assistance tool allows evacuees to self-register online rather than in person at a reception centre. This ensures timely supports and enables evacuees to maintain a safe physical distance during COVID-19, helping to protect them, as well as volunteers, communities and ESS partner agencies.

Vancouver Island communities benefiting include:

  • Campbell River – Modernization and exercise capacity building project. Total approved funding: $24,900;
  • Homalco First Nation – ESS program – supporting resiliency. Total approved funding: $24,970;
  • Strathcona Regional District – Dam inundation capacity enhancement exercise. Total approved funding: $10,440;
  • Mount Waddington Regional District – Critical incident stress management training. Total approved funding: $16,962;
  • Sayward – Sayward modernization and ESS communication capacity enhancement Total approved funding: $5,400;
  • Alert Bay – Cormorant Island ESS program enhancement 2020, supplies and training project Total approved funding: $26,339;
  • Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations – Seacan – regional group lodging supply cache. Total approved funding: $24,645;
  • Strathcona Regional District – Zeballos ESS centre generator installation. Total approved funding: $25,000;
  • Tahsis – ESS modernization and training project. Total approved funding: $15,641; and
  • Gold River – Tsunami tabletop exercise and amateur radio capability enhancement. Total approved funding: $6,926.