For Immediate Release: March 24, 2011
COPE outlines plan for better neighbourhood based emergency response and coordination between City, Park Board, and Board of Education
Elected members from the Coalition of Progressive Electors are unveiling their solutions for preparing and responding to an earthquake in Vancouver. Councillor Ellen Woodsworth, Park Board Commissioner Loretta Woodcock, and Board of Education Trustee Allan Wong all agreed a jointly coordinated, community based response would be essential in the event of an emergency.
Commissioner Loretta Woodcock experienced first hand the Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake and will put forward a plan to include Community Centres across the City as part of a neighbourhood based strategy. “Vancouver needs to create both a preparedness and a response plan involving all neighbourhoods in the same way that Christchurch has.”
Vancouver’s Office of Emergency Management currently conducts workshops on emergency preparedness, but there is no parallel program to engage communities in emergency response said Councillor Woodsworth. She also noted that the city already knows how to communicate to its residents. “Right now, every household knows what day of the week to put out their garbage, but do they know where to go in the event of an emergency?”
Woodcock stressed that working with the Community Centre Associations is paramount to any coordinated local response. “We need a plan that involves residents in each neighbourhood using the Park Board’s 24 Community Centres as emergency response points” said Commissioner Woodcock. “The same holds true for our schools,” she said.
Board of Education Trustee Allan Wong agreed, but also stressed the need to get serious about preparing our schools for emergencies. “The federal and provincial governments need to start taking this very seriously,” said Wong. “All of our schools can play a pivotal role as community response points for delivering supplies and providing shelter, but only if they’re standing.”
COPE will be presenting coordinated motions at City Council, Park Board, and Board of Education in the coming weeks.