The June 6 regional district’s Protective Services Committee discussion on emergency planning was timely, considering last week’s deluge and subsequent flooding of several communities in southern Alberta.
During the committee discussion, regional district directors expressed some frustration at their inability to deal with potential threats to constituents and their property, citing problems getting taxpayers’ and the province’s blessing to spend money on prevention, rather than the multitudes more needed to pay for damage after natural disasters strike.
In light of what happened in Alberta last week, it might be time for the public to get involved in the discussion. We all realize there are finite financial resources at government’s disposal – at least, we hope that everyone realizes that – and a limitless way in which that money can be spent.
But we think the directors are on to something here. At least a few of the directors could also point to instances in their areas or municipalities where mitigation efforts might prevent or reduce a disaster.
When we look at the ultimate cost of the damage done in Alberta, it would seem that with a potential for disaster on that scale, even the most token effort to reduce the threat would have some payback should disaster strike somewhere in the regional district.
There is some evidence in emergency service statistics that indicate the role community fire departments play in serving the community is changing, as the traditional emergencies these groups attend decline statisically.
Perhaps it is time for regional district communities to take a hard, considered look at annual firefighting budgets, looking at them from a perspective of disaster prevention, as opposed to disaster control.