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Northern Rockies expresses support for Emergency Act timeline extension

The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality has sent a letter to Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, expressing support for the Peace River Regional District’s request for an extension to comment on the new Emergency and Disaster Act.

In the letter, the Northern Rockies said they’ve just begun recovering from a long wildfire season and find the province’s Dec. 31, 2023 deadline to be “unrealistic to many”.

“The NRRM, along with municipalities throughout the province has only just caught its breath from the intense and long wildfire season, having had our Emergency Operations Centre active for the longest duration in our history to date,” writes the municipality.

“Our staff and emergency personnel are currently refocusing on core business operations following the strain experienced through the spring and summer,” they added.

The Northern Rockies issued several evacuation alerts and orders throughout the summer and into the fall for wildfires, including the Donnie Creek wildfire complex.

PRRD board directors discussed the legislation in October and concluded that three months isn’t sufficient time to get a solid understanding of the act, nor is it enough time to consult their respective communities and constituents.

“We’re supposed to be talking and forming partnerships with the First Nations. How do you do that in three months? It’s impossible. Where’s the resources?” said PRRD Chair Brad Sperling in October. “There’s absolutely no money in this legislation for any of this to be done.”

“We struggled to operate under the present form. There’s a lot of gaps and problems with the way things are done right now,” added Area E Director Dan Rose during the same October board meeting. “And to add more of this on, and we’re not an authority at anything - we’re just going to be that pinata, getting whacked from every different direction, we won’t see it coming.”

Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alaska Highway News