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Alberta's disaster risk assessment plan in poor shape: auditor

Last Updated Sep 30, 2020 at 7:57 pm MDT

(WARNING: The following video contains images that may be too sensitive for some viewers. Viewer Discretion is advised)

Alberta’s auditor general said the province does a poor job of anticipating and preparing for disasters.

In a report released on Sept. 28, Doug Wylie said Alberta doesn’t have a consistent plan for evaluating the risk the province faces from disasters such as floods or wildfires.

He said the government began preparing one in 2014, but the effort floundered after different ministries couldn’t agree on the severity of the risks posed by different hazards.

Wylie also found that many local municipalities have large gaps in their hazard assessments.

He added many don’t have a risk assessment at all.

Only 24 per cent of municipalities have risk assessments with most of the essential steps.

Wylie said factors such as climate change are increasing disaster risks in Alberta.

Local response

In the last five years, the RMWB completed three disaster risk assessments

Known as Hazard Risk Vulnerability Assessments (HRVA), the first examined the entire region prior to the 2016 wildfire.

The Municipality completed a second assessment as part of the Community Emergency Management Plan program in 2018.

Each of the RMWB’s 17 communities completed a disaster risk assessment in consultation with community partners and stakeholders.

They identified specific hazards and risks for each community.

The Municipality plans to publish the 2020 RMWB Hazard Risk Vulnerability Assessment.

It includes information from the Emergency Management Agency, Alberta Government, First Nations, Métis Locals, local businesses, academics, and the Oil Sands Community Alliance.

RMWB Emergency Management said HRVA will soon be available to the public on the Municipality’s website.

The 2018 HRVA is available through the Regional Emergency Management Plan (REMP)

Residents may find community specific HRVA on the Municipality’s website.

Results guide emergency preparation and mitigation activities as well as budget, training, and exercises to assist in response and recovery from identified hazards.

This article includes excerpts from 660 News and The Canadian Press.