Public needs information in an emergency

Communication is key

Last week, Kelowna fire chief Travis Whiting announced he and his department hoped to lift all evacuation orders within the City of Kelowna by Thursday of that week.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all our firefighters and first responders for their incredible work in saving so many homes. I would also like to thank the many volunteers working behind the scenes to assist those who have been evacuated or lost their homes.

For example, the Central Okanagan Search and Rescue (COSAR) volunteer members have put in many hours of service during the past few weeks. All these incredible efforts are greatly appreciated by all of us.

Regarding the announcement from Whiting, it should be noted the situation was not certain due to the rapidly changing weather and wind conditions in the Okanagan. Nevertheless, the fire chief and his department shared a goal and objective with the community they serve.

That information was beneficial for those who were displaced and impacted by the evacuation orders, allowing residents to have some hope and the ability to make preliminary plans based on a potential timeline.

Earlier this week, I received confidential information that Highway 97, currently closed due to a landslide, would not be open to the public the following day.

While it is understandable that geotechnical work must be performed to assess the stability of the rockslide (area) and identify remedial actions to ensure public safety, citizens, businesses and other organizations would benefit from that information being publicly shared so they can make informed decisions.

I have spoken with several individuals and businesses who suffered adverse effects due to the lack of information regarding the road closure. That led to many cancellations, long drives after a full day of work, or unexpected hotel costs as people were forced to make hasty and often costly decisions.

Examples included a dentist who cancelled all their appointments, a company that had to pay for accommodations to ensure contracted work is completed on time and even someone whose partner damaged their vehicle taking a forestry road in order to be at work on time.

I commend Penticton MLA Dan Ashton for publicly sharing these concerns and the need for better and more timely communication from the provincial Ministry of Transportation.

It is crucial that those who work at all levels of government, including elected officials, are accountable to citizens, return phone calls, and communicate promptly.

Citizens deserve to have the most up-to-date information to make informed decisions.

My question this week is:

How satisfied are you with the communication you receive from elected officials and government?

Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola and the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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