High River urg­ing the province to bet­ter co­or­di­nate emer­gency re­sponse


The Town of High River is call­ing on the province to merge emer­gency man­age­ment and emer­gency so­cial ser­vices into one min­istry in or­der to bet­ter co­or­di­nate re­sponses to dis­as­ter.

In a pe­ti­tion to be pre­sented later this month in Cal­gary at a meet­ing of the Al­berta Ur­ban Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties As­so­ci­a­tion, High River called for the cre­ation of “a sin­gle, all-haz­ards, pub­lic safety ori­ented gov­ern­ment min­istry” to re­spond to un­fold­ing emer­gen­cies.

Cur­rently, the province’s emer­gency man­age­ment re­sponse is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of mu­nic­i­pal af­fairs, while emer­gency so­cial ser­vices is housed within the min­istry of com­mu­nity and so­cial ser­vices.

And, ac­cord­ing to High River, dur­ing some of Al­berta’s worst dis­as­ters — the Wood Buf­falo widl­fire, the south­ern Al­berta floods and the Slave Lake wild­fire— the di­vided min­istry caused prob­lems.

“(This) sep­a­ra­tion re­sults in a loss of co­or­di­na­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion break­downs, and con­flict­ing mes­sages to evac­uees who need cer­tainty in or­der to make de­ci­sions about their homes and busi­nesses,” the draft res­o­lu­tion reads.

“Lo­cal author­i­ties would be best served by a well-co­or­di­nated, in­te­grated pro­vin­cial ap­proach to emer­gency man­age­ment and emer­gency so­cial ser­vices.”

And once the ini­tial emer­gency re­sponse is over, the town said, the re­cov­ery ef­fort “must be com­mu­nity-led to be most ef­fec­tive.”

The pe­ti­tion also ref­er­enced find­ings from a num­ber of post-dis­as­ter re­views and in­ves­ti­ga­tions that rec­om­mended closer in­te­gra­tion of emer­gency so­cial ser­vices into the over­all re­sponse.

The draft res­o­lu­tion also ac­knowl­edged the threat of in­creas­ingly fre­quent largescale dis­as­ters thanks to cli­mate change.

The res­o­lu­tion will be pre­sented at a meet­ing of AUMA mem­bers be­tween Nov. 22-24 at the Telus Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

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