Four West Shore municipalities are partnering with the Capital Regional District (CRD) for the use of their Emergency Response Management System.
Langford, Colwood, View Royal and Highlands are involved in the West Shore Alert initiative which will allow residents of those communities to be notified in the case of a safety incident such as wildfire, tsunami or evacuation notice.
The alerts are in addition to the public alert system from the provincial and federal governments.
Alerts will be sent via e-mail and text message as well as through the community’s regular channels such as websites and social media.
Sandra Russell, a spokesperson for the City of Colwood, said the alerts can also be specified to a geographic area.
“We could send alerts just to a certain neighbourhood,” Russell said. “So for example here in Colwood if there is an ocean-related alert we could send it just to Lagoon neighbourhood folks who it concerns most.”
The alert system will be free of cost to residents, with municipalities covering the fees to register them for the alert system.
By partnering with the CRD, Russell said municipalities will save 30 cents per registration.
The alert system is expected to be implemented in the new year, according to Russell. Until then she said residents can rely on provincial and federal alerts for emergency notifications.
“Until early in the new year that’s the best way for people to get alerts about emergency events,” Russell said.
Before deciding on partnering with the CRD, Russell said the City of Colwood used regular channels to get the word out and in some events, firefighters and volunteers would go door-to-door.
“At three in the morning we’d be here in our emergency operations centre updating people online and through the meda,” Russell said. “That’s the way we’ve always done it and we’ll continue to do that when we have alerts in place but [the alerts] will be an additional early warning for people.”
Russell said implementing the West Shore Alert System has been in conversation for quite some time. However, she said it was most evident that it was necessary last January when there was a tsunami warning in Colwood and firefighters went door-to-door to alert residents along the Lagoon to evacuate.
“That’s when the real push began to get an alert system in place,” Russell said.