Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

A CLOSE CALL – An aircraft soars over the major Haeckel Hill wildfire in June 1991. The city came close to a fullscale evacuation at that time

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

DISCUSSING THE STRATEGY – Chris Green (right on screen), the deputy chief of the Whitehorse Fire Department, speaks during Tuesday’s briefing on the Public Safety Protection Plan at city hall. Left on screen is Myles Dolphin, a city spokesperson.

Plan covers evacuation scenarios, communications

The city has released its Public Safety Protection Plan.

By Chuck Tobin on June 24, 2020

The city has released its Public Safety Protection Plan.

The 64-page document lays out who can declare an emergency, the steps to be taken when an emergency has been declared and how the emergency will be communicated to the citizens of Whitehorse.

The plan has been two years in the making, deputy fire chief Chris Green explained during a press briefing held Tuesday morning.

It was also formally presented to city council at its meeting last night, though members of council were briefed on it previously.

A six-page summary of the protection plan has been created for distribution to the public.

Green said communication in an emergency is of the utmost importance.

Residents should have an emergency kit prepared in case of an evacuation order, he said.

“Be prepared,” said the deputy chief. “Listen for the instructions, and follow the instructions.”

“The ability for community members to learn of a crisis and the actions required for their safety (if any) is of the utmost importance,” says the plan.

“In today’s age of instant information, it can be a difficult challenge to try to separate fact from rumour. Inappropriate, unofficial and incorrect information posted to social media can lead to a panic response.”

Members of council at last night’s meeting emphasized it is important to ensure residents are informed about steps outlined in the protection plan. It’s important they understand the difference between an evacuation alert and an evacuation order.

The administrative report to council says: “The options and guidelines included in the Public Safety Protection Plan will provide emergency managers with the proper tools to make informed decisions on the actions best required in the specific circumstances of an emergency, and the logistics of executing each action.

“This document is the culmination of a significant effort by city staff and stakeholders within Yukon’s EMO (Emergency Management Organization).”

“How do we make sure every household has access to this, given that not all households have Internet?” asked Coun. Jan Stick.

Acting city manager Valerie Braga said there is ongoing work with the city’s communication department to come up with a communication strategy.

She said there is a plan to engage all the individual community associations across Whitehorse to help distribute and explain the protection plan.

The protection plan breaks down the city into many different evacuation areas, based on subdivisions and neighbourhoods.

The deputy fire chief explained there are no evacuation routes identified on the maps because emergency officials will determine evacuation routes at the time of an emergency, based on the nature of the threat and its location.

Green emphasized when an evacuation alert is issued, residents need to be prepared, they need to have an emergency kit that will sustain them for at least 72 hours, or three days.

If an evacuation order is issued, citizens must follow the instructions of emergency officials to ensure traffic flow and such are managed in an orderly fashion, he said.

Green said evacuation orders can come without an alert being issued, depending on how quickly the emergency arises.

A Hazard Identification and Risk Analysis completed by the city last year identified 28 threats, with wildfires being the most concerning.

Green mentioned the protection plan lays out a couple of different options for addressing emergencies.

There is the possibility of sheltering-in-place whereby residents will be instructed to remain in their homes in cases such as the release of a hazardous material that could be harmful if inhaled, he explained.

Green said it’s important that residents have an emergency kit with food and water, with identification such as a passport, essential medications and prescriptions and important documents like insurance papers.

They should bring their cellphones if they have one and they should have a working portable radio so they can stay informed through public broadcasts.

They need to have their pets ready to go, and property owners who have livestock should have a plan to evacuate their animals, he said.

The protection plan outlines several things home owners should do upon leaving their home, like making sure they’re locked up and all firearms are properly secured.

The protection plan identifies assembly points in different neighbourhoods and subdivisions where residents can gather and either be redirected to or transported to a reception centre.

It identifies reception centres where evacuees will have their personal information documented and services will be provided.

Green said if residents decide to self-evacuate prior to an official evacuation order, they should let somebody know where they’re heading and then let them know when they get there.

They should inform emergency officials so that officials can track people’s whereabouts, he said.

Green said know your neighbours.

“If you have neighbours that may not be ‘as connected’ with today’s information sources, check in with them and pass along reliable information that you have received,” says the plan.

“They might be afraid, and your connection may be all they need to understand what is happening, and what (if any) actions they should take.”

The Canada Games Centre would be the primary reception centre if available, though the plan identifies several facilities with the capabilities to serve as reception centres.

In Riverdale, for instance, several schools like F.H. Collins Secondary School and Selkirk Elementary School could serve as both assembly points and reception centres, the plan notes.

On the other hand, large stores with lots of parking, like Walmart, Canadian Tire and the Real Canadian Superstore, could serve as assembly points but not reception centres.

The Takhini Arena and Kwanlin Dün Potlatch House could serve as both, as could the Mount Sima Ski Hill and the Whitehorse cadet training camp at Mary Lake.

The plan identifies many assembly points and receptions centres across the city.

Comments (8)

Up 6 Down 0

Michael "Spanky" Lavalliere on Jun 26, 2020 at 10:33 am

Here's a link to the plan:


Up 15 Down 6

Max Mack on Jun 26, 2020 at 8:35 am

City officials and EMO bureaucrats simply oozing with anticipation, relishing their powers to control the masses through diktat?
"Listen to instructions, follow instructions". We know what is best for you. You are not allowed to think.

"In today’s age of instant information, it can be a difficult challenge to try to separate fact from rumour. Inappropriate, unofficial and incorrect information posted to social media can lead to a panic response."

The "officials" and the media have been doing a fine job of scaring the living snot out of folks with wild exaggeration of the lethality of COVID. Social media is not the problem. I expect GY and CoW will be pushing the feds to push social media giants and local news outlets to censor content that doesn't meet the official narrative. After all, only government and MSM are allowed to scare people and spread misinformation.

These are disturbing times.

Up 18 Down 4

Anie on Jun 25, 2020 at 3:59 pm

Given the whitewash, Pat-ourselves-on-the-back review that was undertaken by the 3 levels of government after the 911 debacle, I don't expect this plan to have much substance. But since I can't seem to find it anywhere, it will remain a mystery. When a disaster happens, we'll just repeat 911. Mayor : do you know who I am? Answer, yup, but you still can't go to the airport. City councillor: do you know who I am? Yup, but you still can't drive your car down the sidewalk on Lewis Blvd.

Up 22 Down 1

One One-Lesser-Voice on Jun 25, 2020 at 12:30 pm

Each person and family has to take responsibility for potential disasters.

Pandemonium will prevail if something big takes place. Prepare and do not rely on anyone.

Up 19 Down 2

Jerry Richards on Jun 25, 2020 at 2:41 am

Where in the heck is this plan? Not a single article links to it and the cities website doesn’t have it on it. Is there any mention about how horrible the corridors are north and south of Whitehorse? Or is this another “pet the politician” report that often come from small cities. Brace yourself Whitehorse. If a disaster comes, we’ll hear how the city got the cheapest advice it could find that recommended they do exactly what the Managers/YG masters wanted with very little in the way of cost, all to the peril of the citizens. I’m very curious of the total amount of people these evacuation sites can contain compared to the actual population that may use them. It’s easy to preach a study no one can see.

Up 7 Down 11

Matthew on Jun 24, 2020 at 9:12 pm

Soooo.. fires the biggest threat we face, BUT they can be extinguished very quickly if we exercise our weather modification act and spray chemicals in the atmosphere to produce rainfaill!

Up 9 Down 3

Wilf Carter on Jun 24, 2020 at 8:07 pm

The mayor stated several times in public there was no need for this, this was covered, by City and YTG!!

Up 8 Down 8

Wilf Carter on Jun 24, 2020 at 7:35 pm

This is great. There is a lot people wanting this for years.

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