FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Peace River North MLA Dan Davies can’t get an answer from government as to why the province’s emergency notification system, Alert Ready, has been used so rarely, especially with the number of emergencies in the last year.
Davies appeared on Moose Talks on Friday to talk about what his party members debated in the Legislature this week, including the lack of the emergency system’s use to alert residents of events like floods, forest fires and the heat dome.
“We talked about the forest fires, where there were lots of opportunities to get warnings out to people to get them to safety. Look at the heat dome this summer; 600 British Columbians died in the heat dome, many of those in Vancouver,” said Davies. “Another opportunity to let people know ahead of time, and nothing was done.”
Davies says during the recent flooding events near Abbotsford, residents in Northern Washington state had 48 hours of advance warning to their residents before the Province notified British Columbians.
“They had 48 hours warning, come and get sandbags, there will be flooding, don’t travel, shutting roads down, 48 hours before B.C. finally sent out some tweets or a Facebook notice.”
Other than the recent emergency notification in Vanderhoof when there was an active shooter, Davies says he’s only received two notifications a year as a test.
“Ontario’s used it 200 times, Saskatchewan has used it 40 to 50 times, Alberta next door has used it 80 times since it has come into effect in 2018.”
The notifications can be targeted to specific areas so as not to send blanket messages that aren’t relevant to most British Columbians, says Davies.
“We have no idea why government has not done it. They’re saying that they will get this in place for next September and next summer. Well, what about the disasters between now and when we know the system works? My cell phone goes off twice a year for a test. We know it works. Why don’t we start using it? That is a great question, and unfortunately, the government didn’t have any answers.”
According to the Emergency Info BC website, “at this time in B.C., the system will only be used in the event of a potential tsunami, an Amber Alert or a civil emergency.”