News Briefs for Oct. 27, 2017

Emergency Test

Over 200 Haida Gwaii residents got text, email, or phone alerts from the islands’ new emergency notification system during the B.C. ShakeOut drill on Oct. 19.

So far, 292 people have signed up for the free service, called ePact.

The annual Oct. 19 earthquake drill gave staff in Old Massett, Masset, Port Clements, Skidegate, Queen Charlotte, Sandspit, and the regional district office a first chance to test the new system.

“It seems reasonably straightforward, and it is fairly responsive,” said Trevor Jarvis, chief administrative officer for Masset.

“Obviously, the voicemail alerts take the longest.”

While text and email alerts got to residents almost instantaneously, some voicemail alerts took as long as 40 minutes to arrive.

In Queen Charlotte and Tow Hill, residents also got to test the system’s “roll call” function by sending a reply text to either confirm they were safe, or to ask for evacuation help.

Held every Oct. 19 at 10:19 a.m., this year’s ShakeOut drill also included a test of the tsunami siren in Queen Charlotte and drills at some islands schools.

To sign up for ePact, visit epactnetwork.com/en/signup/haidagwaiialerts.

Library loan

Directors of the North Coast Regional District have approved a plan to borrow nearly $1.9 million on behalf of the Vancouver Island Regional Library for the branches in Masset, Queen Charlotte, and Sandspit.

The Masset branch will receive $750,000 toward a new building that is already in the design phase, while another $750,000 and $375,000 are budgeted for Queen Charlotte and Sandspit.

While the VIRL will borrow the money through the North Coast Regional District, it will repay the loan in full, and residents will see no related change to local library levies.

NCRD directors put the plan to an alternative approval process — had 10 per cent of Haida Gwaii residents objected, the loan would have gone to an islands-wide referendum.

But after receiving zero objections by the Oct. 6 deadline, directors approved the plan on Oct. 20.

Friends of Mike

Friends are helping to raise a medical fund for Mike Hamill, who was left paraplegic after a guided fishing boat he was on struck a humpback whale in Naden Harbour this June.

A former B.C. wrestler, powerlifter, and bodybuilder, the 61-year-old suffered injuries to his spinal chord, brain, and lungs in the crash, as well as over 80 broken bones.

On a Go Fund Me webpage, friends of Hamill hope to raise $125,000 to cover the cost of the medical equipment he now needs, such as a wheelchair and a lift, as well as medications for nerve pains, spasms, blood clots, and sleep deprivation.

“We all know Mike has raised funds and donated to help others his whole life,” wrote a friend on the page, which was created by Hamill’s friend Diane Zaleski. In fact, before his injury, Hamill donated gym equipment to GF Strong, the Vancouver rehabilitation hospital where he is now a regular patient.

“We know Mike, he’s knocked down, but you can’t keep a good man down,” his friend wrote. “Let’s help him back up up in life.”

To donate, search for the Friends of Mike Hamill page at www.gofundme.com.

QC votes

Voters in Queen Charlotte will indeed have a choice in the upcoming council by-election set for Saturday, Nov. 18.

Residents Alan Moore and Devin Rachar have both put their names forward to run for the vacant seat on Queen Charlotte council.

Whoever is elected will serve a one-year term before the next round of general local government elections in October 2018.

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