Columbia Basin communities in B.C. prepare for disasters
By Chadd Cawson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
While there are many perks that come with living in the Columbia Basin, there are also many precautions when it comes to emergencies like wildfires and floods. The communities in the Columbia Basin need to be prepared for any disaster. Through the aid of Columbia Basin Trust, 10 projects are underway to ensure that several locations within the basin are properly equipped.
“Basin residents have emphasized the need for their communities to become more climate resilient,” said Will Nixon, senior manager, delivery of benefits, Columbia Basin Trust, in a press release on Nov. 30. “We’re supporting these communities to be better prepared for events like wildfire or extreme weather. These projects will provide more resources so we can all face the future more confidently.”
Not only did Columbia Basin Trust, which operates on the unceded traditional territories of the Ktunaxa, Lheidli T’enneh, Secwepemc, Sinixt and Syilx Nations, support 13 projects in the fall of 2021, they are providing nearly $2 million to assist the Columbia Valley communities in strengthening their emergency operations centres. They are creating emergency spaces for residents to gather, allowing them access to necessities like power, filtered air, air conditioning, emergency equipment and supplies.
The Town of Golden is purchasing a portable backup generator to provide power to the emergency operations centre during prolonged power failures. It will also be used to power adjacent buildings such as the arena and seniors centre, which will serve as reception centres or fulfill other important roles during disasters.
“We’re fortunate to have a state-of-the-art emergency operations centre, which is the hub of emergency response during an event,” said Kyle Hale, Golden emergency program co-ordinator in a November press release. “Wildfire, flooding, extreme weather and infrastructure failure can all cause a prolonged power outage and ensuring the centre and other critical community buildings can continue to operate, is essential.”
The Ymir community hall, built in the 1950s, is set to go under several enhancements to ensure it can aid the public in emergencies like forest fires, severe weather, and floods. The Ymir Community Association will not only improve the hall’s lighting and accessibility it will be adding a backup generator, wi-fi and a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
“With these much-needed upgrades to our community hall, we will be able to provide a safe and dependable space for the people of Ymir,” said Tamara Rushforth, treasurer in a November press release. “This main building of Ymir is greatly needed for emergencies of any kind, elections, and celebrations. It is very important for all the residents that they have a place to go in case of any situation.”
Columbia Basin Trust offers an over-arching program to help communities prepare for, respond to, and adapt to challenges associated with the ever-changing environment, as well as more targeted programs aimed to reduce the risk of wildfires or do energy retrofits on community-purpose buildings.
Chadd Cawson is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for The Columbia Valley Pioneer.
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