Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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An emergency plan for the ward

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When I was door-knocking over the past few months, I heard a lot about the blackout experienced in the west end of the city, including affecting virtually all of Kitchissippi ward. I’m actually a little taken aback at how useful residents found my tweets during that period. I was glad that I could get information to residents, help make some calls where particular problems were being experienced that I could help fix, and to help organize some mitigations. I wish I could have done more.

Now that the election is over and we’re resuming our routine in the office, I wanted to pass on that I’ve asked Tom Pechloff in my office to begin the process of developing a plan in our community for how we’ll connect the necessary resources with the people who need them should we face the same situation in future. There were situations that arose that I think I could have dealt with better, and there is always room for improvement in communications.

The City is undertaking its own assessment of its emergency response, and it will be a while before we understand what gaps may exist that need to be dealt with locally. Much of our own response in the ward depended on leaders’ personal networks, and I believe a local plan is critical. It can take a while for the City and its various agencies to pivot to dealing with an emergency, and I have a new appreciation for the responsibility we have locally to help each other until the significant machinery of the City swings fully into action.

This is an opportune time to note that the City does consider that most residents not facing immediately life-threatening circumstances should be prepared to be relatively self-sufficient for up to 72 hours should there be a disaster affecting normal city services. There are tips on the City’s website here about different kinds of service interruptions. One of the things that was most frustrating to me waking up on Saturday morning during the blackout was the flakiness of Internet communications. It’s a good idea to take a look at the City’s tips and incorporate those into an emergency preparedness plan before a major event occurs.

Planning for an emergency is key. The City has some great tips on developing an emergency plan here. I strongly encourage you to take a look if you haven’t already. It’s important to have some basic supplies (known widely as a 72-hour kit) on hand and knowing how you’ll communicate with loved ones and with the wider world. As part of my own emergency plan for the ward, I’ll be looking at how we’ll set up a physical location for information-sharing, but you should – if you haven’t already – absolutely go out next weekend and purchase an old-school transistor radio and have batteries on hand.

There are vulnerable groups who will need more help than this, and my own emergency plan for the ward will focus on residents who may face unique circumstances. Over the coming months, we’ll evaluate the resources we need to bring to bear locally, who has those, and how we’ll connect those. Stay tuned – I’ll be asking residents for their input soon as Tom gets to work on this. He will also be reaching out directly to some key stakeholders who we know will be a key part of the discussion.

We weathered the last storm pretty well, Kitchissippi! Residents, businesses and stakeholder groups did what we’d expect them to do and helped each other out. I believe we can facilitate that better, and we’ll invite you in the coming weeks to provide your feedback on how to do that.

(Pictured above are staff from Dovercourt Recreation Centre who didn't hesitate to agree to stay open later than usual to give residents a place to charge up and shower, just one of the many organizations that helped out during the blackout.)

Posted October 31, 2018