Quesnel Looks at Possible Changes to How Emergencies are Handled
Quesnel, B.C.- Although the wildfire season is far from over and there are some who fear it will become worse before it gets better, the Mayor of Quesnel is suggesting there may be a case to re-think how such emergencies are handled.
Mayor Bob Simpson says while Quesnel has not yet had to activate its Emergency Operations centre during the current crisis, Emergency Management Committee meetings were being held daily to keep track of the situation and to learn .
One of the areas Mayor Simpson would like to see pursued is the possibility of breaking up the Cariboo-Chilcotin into sub regions for emergency management “The Cariboo -Chilcotin is a huge area” says Simpson who adds local knowledge of the specific areas might have been helpful in reducing some confusion. Case in point, the Green Mountain fire, which was originally labelled the Dragon Mountain fire. Simpson says those living near Dragon Mountain were concerned about their properties, when in fact, the actual fire was happening on Green Mountain. “I certainly believe we could have avoided a lot of the confusion created during this most recent emergency if we had been able to make more direct decisions here in the North Cariboo base on more local knowledge of our situation and our geography.”
Simpson also points out Quesnel is linked to Northern Health, not Interior Health as is the case in Williams Lake and areas south of that city.
To add to Quesnel’s case is the fact it has a permanent Wildfire Branch base at the Airport and the Ministry of Transportation has its own office in Quesnel.
Simpson says Quesnel will collect all of the lessons learned from the other communities impacted by this season’s wildfire activity, including Prince George and Kamloops which were host cities for evacuees. He says the information will be presented to Quesnel Council later this summer with the hopes of getting approval to work with an emergency management specialist in the development of a “comprehensive and detailed plan” the City of Quesnel can use should there be a wildfire emergency in the future.