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October 27, 2017 3:23 pm

Leadership During Crisis – PG Takes Centre Stage

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 @ 5:27 PM

Mayor Lyn Hall  talks about  servicing a city within a city – photo courtesy City of Prince George

Prince George, B.C. – As the Union of BC Municipalities  convention  gets underway,  delegates had an opportunity to hear about the wildfire crisis that  gripped the province   over the summer,  and how communities,  like Prince George dealt with the challenges   the wildfires presented.

For Prince George,  it meant operating a city  within a city  as 10 thousand evacuees came to P.G.  for shelter and support.   Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall   joined Cariboo Regional District Chair Al Richmond and Kelowna Mayor  Colin Basran  in a panel discussion about the challenges and  what communities need to do to be prepared.

“People were really  interested in how the three of us,   held a leadership role in  getting  information out,  communication and how did we handle  it.  Lots of questions about communication.”

Prince George hasn’t  yet  had a  full debriefing on what did, or didn’t,  work over the summer when it came to  welcoming and servicing evacuees “That’s in the works” says Mayor Hall.  “We were just  waiting to give it some time,   as our final evacuees  just  left  a short  while ago and we are winding down that registration process.”

Mayor Hall says  he  believes  those who attended the session learned  that things  are changing,  “We have to be  prepared for things  like floods,   Mayor Basran from Kelowna  talked about  that.  Al and I  talked about the fire situation, and we are seeing more  and more things like this,  and we need to be prepared..  It doesn’t matter what community you live in,  if you are on the Island,  in the centre of the province,  or Fort Nelson,  you need to be  prepared  and ready as a municipality  for these disasters.  That means having an emergency operations team  that’s in place  ready to go at a moment’s notice.”

The Regional District of Fraser Fort George  has submitted a resolution for consideration  during  this  convention,  and it calls for more support from the Provincial government so  communities can be better prepared.  The resolution  has not yet hit the  delegation floor  for discussion,  but  Mayor Hall says  the Province  is already listening. “Given the conversations  we’ve had as a municipality  on what we think   we need to be prepared  for  future receiving of evacuees or   having to evacuate our community,  I get the feeling  government is  saying, ‘what are the lessons we’ve learned?’ ‘what do municipalities need to  be ready again should something  happen?”.

Mayor Hall says Prince George is already reviewing  what  steps may need to  be taken to  reduce the risk of  interface fires .  A full report on  wildfire risk  was prepared last year in the wake of the Fort McMurray fires and the City  is  working through what  can be done to reduce risk  in  our parks and greenspaces.  Mayor Hall says  one of the things communities need to understand is the magnitude of services  that need to be  provided to evacuees “Whatever services we provide to residents,   we need to be prepared to provide those same services to evacuees, whether it’s health care,  accommodation, social services,  that kind of thing,  we need to be able to provide all of it.”

Mayor Hall  says the underlying message is that no municipality can  act as though ‘it can’t happen  here’   “If you are saying that,  then you aren’t prepared”.


When will the self congratulatory nonsense stop. It’s making me ill. People with a genuine community spirit don’t do it to make themselves appear magnanimous, they do it because it’s the right thing to do and need no thanks and continuous back patting. Politicians are gross.

Self congratulatory? Where do you get that from? I fully expect that there would be a healthy exchange of information and lessons learned from the challenges posed this summer. This best practice is all about sharing what has been learned and improving the strategy for next time. That is part of the reason this meeting is held annually.

Regardless of how you feel about politicians Joe Blow, you have to let them do their job. Not unless you think you can get yourself elected and do better. Go for it.

If anything was clear, is is we need more lanes between here and Kamloops.. that traffic could have flowed much better!

    They are working on it. As for expanding the highway to accommodate the one in x years is a bit off.

    Saying we need to be ready for any situation is unattainable. What ifs would make PG need thousands of square feet of safety gear etc. think we pay high taxes now. Just wait if PG comes up with some contingency plan for emergencies from floods fire earthquake. Very costly.

Lord knows this PG Council is far from perfect but I think they deserves some credit when they do something right. The City’s response to the evacations was great and together with it’s citizens, they did the city proud.

Thanks for a job well done!

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