Emergency communications in the Cowichan Valley will be significantly enhanced and upgraded if a grant application of almost $199,000 to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities is successful.
The board of the Cowichan Valley Regional District voted unanimously to make the grant application to the UBCM’s Community Emergency Preparedness Fund at its meeting on March 24.
The CVRD agreed to submit the application in conjunction with Cowichan Tribes, City of Duncan, Malahat Nation, Municipality of North Cowichan, Town of Lake Cowichan, Town of Ladysmith and the Stz’uminus First Nation, and the district would manage the funds on behalf of the partners if the application is successful.
Merrick Grieder, the CVRD’s emergency telecommunications coordinator, said in a report that following every emergency event in the Cowichan area, communications are often identified as a problem related to emergency response.
He said that whether by human error, technical faults or lack of pre-planning, communications issues plague emergency response and can result in the ineffective handling of emergencies.
“To this end, the CVRD has made investments in an emergency communications program under the auspices of the emergency program for over 20 years,” Grieder said.
“Currently, the CVRD supports emergency communications by way of a regional ‘Disaster Radio’ program, a 25-person volunteer communications team, amateur radio stations, radio repeater sites, a regional communications plan, a deployable satellite phone and a small cache of spare two-way radio equipment.”
Grieder said the $199,000 grant would vastly enhance regional emergency communications capacity by expanding and upgrading the dedicated radio network at the Emergency Operation Centre, upgrading existing amateur radio installations, modernizing the existing regional disaster radio program which is more than 20 years old, and continuing to build volunteer, staff and organizational capacity in regards to training and equipment.
“Additionally, the grant application will request funding to meet specific EOC equipment needs,” Grieder said.
“Equipment upgrades on this scale, with a far-reaching impact and scalability, would likely be unaffordable without grant funding.”