Need obvious for emergency plan: Coons

  • Jun. 15, 2007 7:00 a.m.

Last week’s flood, which swamped the mainland highway and cut off our usual supply routes, made the need for a regional emergency plan painfully obvious, says MLA Gary Coons. The highway reopened on the weekend and Sunday evening Mr. Coons drove down it about 100 km east, then back to Rupert. He said it looked good, but warned that another warm spell could cause the Skeena to overflow its banks again. Meanwhile, Mr. Coons spent all day Friday trying to help suppliers on the mainland and business on the islands who were facing geographical and financial hurdles trying to get goods to islanders. Some merchants were told that a barge from Kitimat from Rupert would cost $12,000, which they just couldn’t afford, Mr. Coons said. Others were taking a very expensive route through Vancouver Island and on the ferry from Port Hardy, if they could get space. Prince Rupert faced other problems, including a ruptured natural gas line and broken fibre optic line. “The positive that comes out of this is hopefully we will get a regional plan,” Mr. Coons said. “It’s got to be the mayors of all the communities talking together.” Mr. Coons said a provincial emergency program director was designated to take responsibility for the islands, but this didn’t happen until late in the day on Friday (June 8), after the highway had already been closed for three days. There is provincial money available to help out with things like barging goods in case of emergency, but someone needs to coordinate it, Mr. Coons said. That direction should probably come from the regional district, he said.