By Spencer Hall

At its latest meeting, Valemount Council approved Village staff to apply for a $10,870 grant aimed at bolstering emergency support services in Valemount.

Emergency support services teams provide short term assistance to people who have been impacted by disasters and had to evacuate their homes.

“They will help to place you in a hotel or find accommodations for you, help you with some funding or if you had to run out without your toothbrush and pajamas. They help out with things like that,” said Valemount CAO Anne Yanciw.

The annual grant, offered through the BC Union of Municipalities, provides funding to BC communities for emergency training, purchasing of supplies and initiatives to raise community awareness.

Valemount CAO Anne Yanciw told The Goat that if the Village is successful at obtaining the funding, it would use some of the money to send four members of the Emergency Support Services (ESS) team to the Network of Emergency Support Services Teams conference in Kamloops. The event will be held from April 12th to 14th at the Coast Kamloops Hotel & Conference Centre and features workshops, keynote discussions, group exercises, and an opportunity to network with emergency support professionals.

It’s good team building,” Yanciw said.

Yanciw said another portion of the funding would go toward supplies for the emergency response team, such as a back-up generator.

“If, say, whatever emergency we have knocks out all the power in the community. It still allows them to set up somewhere with power to be able to help people who have been displaced from their homes,” Yanciw said.

In his request to Council, Village Grant Clerk Taggart Wilson also pointed out the portable generator would be valuable when traveling to other locations or setting up an ESS center in an area that doesn’t have power. He recommended the Village also purchase bins and storage containers, a prepaid phone, and sandwich boards.

The Village will also use the potential grant funding to assemble Level 1 Response backpacks, which Yanciw said will include some basic supplies evacuees need in their first 24 hours of evacuation. 

The third prong of the Village’s proposed ESS project is capacity building ” specifically by distributing information to the community on how to prepare for an emergency and recruiting more volunteers for its ESS Team.

There are currently five members of the team ” four from Valemount and one in McBride. Yanciw said the McBride member attends meetings in Valemount.

“That way they’re able to participate in training and those learning opportunities and that sense of teamwork,” Yanciw said.

Going forward, she said the team plans on attending community events to inform the community what ESS is and attract new volunteers. 

“I’m very appreciative of how dedicated this team is. They really are engaged, and in many communities, because ESS is a volunteer function, there’s not a very engaged team,” Yanciw said.

Yanciw said the Village should hear back if they’ve received the grant within a month, adding that even if the Village receives the grant, it’s eligible to apply again each year.

“I actually wouldn’t be opposed to that at all. I would encourage the team to do that because for a volunteer thing, being able to go to a conference like that is just some acknowledgment of the volunteer time that you put in and some recognition for it,” Yanciw said.