New emergency equipment to be installed in municipal hall

The Village of Valemount has received over $150K in funding to purchase and install a back-up generator for the municipal office, as well as portable satellite internet equipment which can be used for communication during emergencies.

The money comes from the Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Readiness Program. Will Nixon, Senior Manager of Delivery of Benefits and Manager of the Community Readiness Program, explained that the program helps basin communities bolster their emergency infrastructure.

“This program really came out of a need to give basin residents the ability to help themselves and be safe during these times of natural crisis,” Nixon said. He added that Columbia Basin Trust has strong relationships with local governments in the area, which helps the Trust address municipalities’ needs.

“The ability for local government to reach out and tell us what’s important in the community [...] is really where quite a few of our ideas and programs come from,” he said. “The Valemount mayor and council are absolutely fantastic to work with.”

Village CAO Anne Yanciw elaborated on how the latest round of funding will benefit Valemount. Should there be an extensive power outage, the new equipment will allow the Village to both continue its typical municipal operations and activate an emergency operations centre, she said. In 2021, the Village also purchased a backup generator for the community hall, which Yanciw said could serve as a warming centre in the event of an extended power outage.

The Village is currently tendering documents for its new backup generator. It is already in the process of purchasing a Starlink satellite, but Yanciw said that supply chain issues have made it difficult to predict when the satellite equipment will be installed.

Elsewhere in the Columbia Basin, the program has already been used extensively, according to Nixon. He pointed to last year’s wildfire season as an example.

“A lot of our emergency reception centres, or even community halls that would be considered unofficial emergency reception centres, turned into areas where people would go to get clean air with proper filtration,” he said, adding that communication infrastructure from the program also saw plenty of use from basin residents.

Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat