Tak­ing shape

City of Char­lot­te­town could spend mil­lions on gen­er­a­tors as part of emer­gency plan for shel­ters

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE STE­WART

A num­ber of part­ners are jump­ing on board to help the City of Char­lot­te­town de­velop an emer­gency plan in the event of lengthy power out­ages.

Mayor Clifford Lee said last month he asked the city’s fire chief, Randy MacDon­ald, to look into the cost of pur­chas­ing gen­er­a­tors and de­vel­op­ing a pro­to­col with Mar­itime Elec­tric.

Such a plan would see the util­ity in­form the city cor­po­ra­tion when power goes out in any part of the cap­i­tal and if it might be out for an ex­tended pe­riod of time.

At coun­cil’s monthly pub­lic meet­ing on Mon­day night, Coun. Kevin Ram­say, chair­man of ad­vanced plan­ning, pri­or­i­ties and spe­cial projects, said the city is work­ing on a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing (MOU) with the English Lan­guage School Board that would see the 13 schools in the city serve as emer­gency shel­ters. It will cost the city around $4 mil­lion to pur­chase gen­er­a­tors for those 13 schools.

“If we hap­pen to lose power, we’re in con­tact with Mar­itime Elec­tric know­ing what spots don’t have power and how soon it’s go­ing to be out,’’ Ram­say said.

MacDon­ald said it’s the ex­tended power out­ages they’re con­cerned about.

“If it’s out for an ex­tended pe­riod of time, Mar­itime Elec­tric will con­tact the city, at which time we will have to make a de­ci­sion as to whether we’ll have to open emer­gency shel­ters or not,’’ MacDon­ald said.

If the de­ci­sion is made that the need to open shel­ters ex­ists, the Cana­dian Red Cross would be con­tacted. The city has a MOU with the CARI com­plex and with the two At­lantic Su­per­store lo­ca­tions to serve as shel­ters. Coach At­lantic Group is also on board for trans­porta­tion needs. Work is also un­der­way to reach a MOU with Sobeys and the English Lan­guage School Board for ad­di­tional bus­ing needs.

“We’ve got the trans­porta­tion needs sat­is­fied. Now we’re work­ing on putting gen­er­a­tors in all 13 schools within the city, which is a big un­der­tak­ing, but that’s the di­rec­tion we’re mov­ing in,’’ MacDon­ald said.

The city also has its own com­mu­nity build­ings in neigh­bour­hoods like Hills­bor­ough Park, Sher­wood, East Roy­alty and West Roy­alty.

Lee said it was time to put a plan in place af­ter a storm in early De­cem­ber re­sulted in wide­spread power out­ages across the prov­ince. Some cus­tomers were with­out power for more than a day.

Lee said he was made aware of a se­niors’ build­ing that went with­out heat for 21 hours, call­ing that “un­ac­cept­able”.

“We need to have a place where we can move peo­ple out of their homes and into th­ese com­mu­nity cen­tres,’’ Lee said.

Costs as­so­ci­ated with this plan could be part of the 2016 mu­nic­i­pal bud­get, which will be de­liv­ered in late March.

DAVE STE­WART/THE GUARDIAN

Char­lot­te­town Fire Chief Randy MacDon­ald has been work­ing on ex­pand­ing the city’s emer­gency re­sponse plan for pro­longed power out­ages for the past few months. A mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing has been reached with the English Lan­guage School Board on us­ing the 13 schools in the city as emer­gency shel­ters, and talks are on­go­ing in terms of us­ing school buses for trans­porta­tion.

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