SRD protective services coordinator Shawn Koopman outlines a grant opportunity for emergency communications services. Photo, Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Strathcona Regional District applying for emergency radio grant

Funding would also help emergency communications with rural communities

Approved for one emergency communications grant, the Strathcona Regional District is moving ahead on another.

At the last meeting on Jan. 24, the SRD protective services coordinator Shaun Koopman appeared before the board to garner support for an application for an emergency operations centre (EOC) grant. The grants are administered by the Union of B.C. Municipalities under the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund to cover communications for emergency operations centres.

The latest application is to enhance local communications with very high frequency (VHF) radio equipment on a mobile communications trailer, as well as communications with rural communities. The UBCM can contribute 100 per cent of the cost up to a maximum of $25,000.

Area D Director Jim Abram asked if this was the same issue as another UBCM grant item in the agenda package for the meeting.

“This a different, a brand-new grant opportunity,” Koopman responded.

That item refers to a letter from the UBCM notifying the SRD of its eligibility for a grant of $24,510 for emergency radio communications from the previous round of grant applications.

READ MORE: SRD emergency notification system testing will happen Jan. 31

Specifically, the newest grant application, as outlined in a staff report, asks for support “to cover equipment to enhance VHF radio communications between the City of Campbell River, Homalco First Nation, and We Wai Kai First Nation; equipment to allow the EOC to send public messaging through 88.7FM Spirit Radio; equipment to allow for the set-up of an emergency call centre; and a high frequency (HF) antenna to enhance communications of the mobile communications trailer from rural and remote areas.”

A grant would allow for the procurement of equipment necessary to send public messaging through the radio, the set-up of an emergency call centre and increase radio communications capacity between the SRD and its rural municipalities as well as First Nation communities. The report states the funding would allow the SRD to provide a more effective response in emergency situations though the EOC. The estimated cost is $24,975.

Charlie Cornfield, one of the Campbell River directors, asked about messaging through 88.7. “If it’s an emergency message, why wouldn’t we broadcast it to all local channels?”

READ MORE: Strathcona Regional District wants to develop wildfire plans for more areas

Koopman clarified that through a memorandum of understanding with 88.7, the station will broadcast what the emergency broadcast centre asks it to do.

“The hope would be that all private and commercial stations would do that as well,” Koopman said, adding the SRD does not have the mandate to require others to broadcast specific content of a message or schedule when it is aired.

Cornfield asked if the regional district could not make an agreement with 99.7, to which Koopman said this matter has been discussed.

“It’s been proposed, but we don’t have anything signed yet,” he said.

The board unanimously passed the motion to apply for the grant.

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