A06 September 17, 2010 The Richmond News
Cuts threaten emergency response
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The City of Richmond’s speedy response in coming to the aid of residents in a fatal apartment blaze is reason enough to protest federal emergency preparedness funding cuts. That’s the view of some members of city council after hearing of Public Safety Canada’s plans to slash the cash for the nationwide Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPP). Next year, the government agency, as part of a “strategic review,” will cut the funding by 35 per cent to just $266,500 to be spread across B.C. According to city staff, such a dramatic decrease will compromise Richmond’s ability to prepare for major incidents in terms of training, education, exercises and constructing emergency plans. Coun. Ken Johnston, while commending city staff for the way they handled the incident that took a man’s life and displaced dozens of residents
on Westminster Highway last month, expressed concern about the cuts. “I had the unfortunate circumstance to see that fire that took a man’s life, but I thought that the city crew, (fire department) and (ambulance) did an amazing job jumping in and organizing everything,” Johnston said. “This is the kind of thing that the emergency training is designed to deal
“We rarely get to see these plans until they go into action.” — Evelina HalseyBrandt
with.” Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt said people, including her fellow councillors, don’t realize how much preparation goes into responding to major emergencies. “We rarely get to see the plans until they go into action,” she said. “This is where the grants come in and is why we need to get that funding
back in place.” The city’s manager of emergency programs, Deborah Procter, told the community safety committee on Tuesday how the cuts, scheduled for 2011/12 will mean fewer emergency preparedness initiatives and fewer pieces of equipment being purchased. In her report, Procter said the impact to local authorities from the reduction will be “significant.” Halsey-Brandt suggested the city get the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to lobby the government to have the funding restored by 2013. Since 2001, the city has received $427,680 in grants, courtesy of the JEPP. Committee agreed to send a letter to the Minister of Public Safety Canada, Vic Toews, with copies to Richmond’s MPs, expressing the city’s concern over the funding cuts. It also voted to request the FCM lobby the federal government over the changes.
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He added he doubts a precedent will be set in terms of height, because the existing zone along No. 5 Road for religious institutions limits the height of buildings according to the size of the total parcel of land and floor area ratios. Other religious institutions would probably not be able to assemble the amount of land needed to exceed their height limits.
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Continued from page 1 The architects plan to pull the frontage back from the sidewalk on No. 5 Road by four feet and plant a double row of trees. The main temple would also be moved back from No. 5 Road closer to Highway 99. “You’re not even going to see the temple — you’re going to see rows of trees,” Cheng said.
Richmond News September 17 2010