Time is running short for reviewing Objectives identified through the draft 2015-18 Strategic Plan so now we look only very briefly at our next objective – planning for Climate Change!
Strategic Objective # 11 (see page 16)
There are four long term Outcomes associated with this Objective of Plan for emergencies including climate change short and long term and they include:
- City has increased the capacity of VEMA.
- City heritage buildings can survive a major earthquake. (Ongoing)
- Fire Station issues are resolved.
- Low-lying areas are protected from flooding.
There are a number of Actions associated with this Objective over the next three years including:
- Complete seismic analysis of privately-owned properties and infrastructure.
- Explore potential for City to require upgrades to heritage buildings for seismic protection even where use is not changed, combined with subsidy program.
- Align VEMA’s budget through Victoria Fire Department and work with Planning.
- Initiate public dialogue and market sounding on fire station options.
- Move forward with plans for a new fire station.
- Move forward with plans for a new fire station.
There are three Considerations associated with this Objective:
- Unclear if City has authority to require upgrades heritage buildings. 2015 Action is reworded to “Explore”.
- Work is currently underway to review VEMA and alignment with Fire Department and other departments.
- 10 week market sounding for Fire Station No. 1 was initiated in February 2015
Lastly, as a hallmark of Priority Based Budgeting (the new city of Victoria emphasis), the section for Estimated Resources associated with Plan for emergencies including climate change short and long term includes:
- Seismic analysis is included in proposed 2015 Financial Plan.
- Capital funding for fire station to be identified for 2016, informed by facilities assessment.
So What is VEMA?
the City of Victoria’s resource for helping the community prepare for an emergency, such as a power outage, wind storm, tsunami or major earthquake. VEMA is responsible for coordinating an emergency response in the event of a disaster and educating and empowering Victoria citizens on how to be “emergency prepared.” This is accomplished through emergency preparedness training events, exercises, and public education.
I must admit that I’m confused by the 2015 Action to Align VEMA’s budget through Victoria Fire Department … because my review of the budget shows that these two items are already aligned in the sense that the VEMA budget ($445,071) is part of the Fire Department Budget (Fire Dept Ops Budget) since the fire department is (see page 683):
Responsible for training City staff and coordinating an emergency response in the event of a disaster.
Related to this, any intention to “increase capacity” also becomes questionable when you look at the city budget in more detail for the following account codes related to VEMA (Ops Budget here):
- VEMA Administration = $347,766 for 2015 and only $376,763 for 2019
- VEMA Evacuee Assistance = $18,105 for 2015 and only $19,597 for 2019
- VEMA Public Education Neighbourhood Program = $13,700 for 2015 and only $14,829 for 2019
- VEMA Communications = $7,700 for 2015 and only $8,335 for 2019
- VEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue team = $47,400 for 2015 and only $51,307 for 2019
- VEMA Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) = $10,400 for 2015 and only $11,257 for 2019
As noted above, simply increasing each budget amount by 2% annually doesn’t necessarily seem like the best or most reliable way of achieving the 2016 intended Outcome of increased capacity at VEMA now does it?
We all know that a big earthquake will hit at some point, but are we ready for it?If you search Seismic in the City’s budget, you find 10 matches:
- 3297 Downtown Heritage Bldgs Seismic (not spent since 2013)
- 6084 Downtown Heritage Bldgs Seismic (transfer to own funds not transferred since 2013)
- Related to this is an entry on the Heritage Building Seismic Upgrades Reserve Fund for upgrading buildings apparently identified in the Downtown Core Area Plan.
- Seismic Risk – Building Assessment Study – a 2015 Initiative for the Community Development and Sustainable Planning Department
- A notation of the seismic risk for the existing JSB on the JSB replacement page capital budget request
- A requirement for seismic film for VCC windows
And that’s it.
Do you know what to do when an earthquake hits?
As I previously noted in my summary of this department’s budget presentation, neither do our Councillors and this was made apparent when Councillor Isitt asked about plans for including Councillors in EOC (Emergency Operations Centre – an integral part of a local emergency response as mandated by the province of BC) training. Our Councillors should know what to do!
New Fire Hall # 1
This issue has been dragging on and on at the City for at least 5 years, and conveniently enough I’m sure a new fire hall is needed in part because the old one will fall down in an earthquake. What the City calls a Market Sounding for the halls replacement was issued in February and closes on April 17th, 2015.
And if you look at the budget, amounts required for the hall’s replacement are still TBD (see page 806 of the budget).
Time for Reassurance
Did you know that the City of Victoria has comprehensive information about Climate Change and Emergency management in their 2012 Official Community Plan and that both items are also dealt with in the OCP implementation strategy? What, you haven’t read these documents either? Cool! Let’s be ignorant and plan for 2075 to protect low lying areas from flooding together!
On the issue of flooding, I have a hard time understanding btw how outrageously expensive housing is in the Railyards, especially since they’re a few feet away from the Gorge.