REPORTING · 6th January 2016
Councillor Mary Murphy made a motion for the District of Kitimat to put together a database so citizens can sign up for emails and information at a regular meeting of Council on December 21st.
“In many communities, they have set up a database where the business of the town is communicated to people who want to know or they can request certain information on projects and it’s working very well for those communities,” said Murphy.
She stated this will also give the community an opportunity to sign up for information on emergency procedures, should they be needed. It would be a start for starting up a community database.
Mayor Phil Germuth asked staff about a proposed reverse 911 which they have been working on. CAO Warren Waycheshen stated they are going through the final stages of an Emergency Notification System which communities do use. This would allow the District to send out notifications to people in the community by phone by highlighting portions on a map.
It would be populated by everyone in the white pages but they would be able to input the information without invading people’s privacy. People would be able to inform District of their cell phone numbers and email addresses so if there was a state of local emergencies, evacuation notices and where the shelters are in place, they could send an alert all at once.
Waycheshen explained they would not use this on a frequent basis because they want people to know when it is used, it will be serious. It would also tie up a lot of phone lines.
Waycheshen stated they do release a District Newsletter Quarterly. He suggested people could sign up for both or just one.
“We use many means to communicate,” said Murphy. “Social Media, we use the newspaper, the paper itself and quarterly, our newsletter goes to people’s homes and I get all that. The emergency or reverse emergency that we’re working on is great. I’m worried to accessing seniors and person’s with limitations because you can’t always get to them. I know there’s a grant available to get better at homes to get a database together, I just can’t find it, I’m working on it, but this is something that other communities have started, not just for emergency purposes, but if they want any type of information from the District of Kitimat, they can sign up.”
She pointed out people can access the Council Minutes on their website but with the database, they would be able to send them out to people who wanted them.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff expressed he is supportive of this motion and all the other ways the District of Kitimat are communicating with the public. He needed to know, however, if this could be done with a low cost.
Waycheshen expressed this would be easy to release. He did not see this as being tonnes of work.
Councillor Larry Walker saw this as a good idea, but he wanted to know more about how they could get information out during an emergency situation, such as a power failure. Some phones do not work in a power failure and the internet is dead. He wanted to know how many seniors had cell phones and used them to access the internet.
Fire Chief Trent Bossence told Council they would be sent by cell phone, email and landlines. Landlines work during power outages because Telus has a generator in their building. If the telephone line is affected, calls will not get through.
Walker expressed his landline was useless during the February power outage, he had to fetch rotary phone from his garage. Bossence expressed when there is a lot of activity on the phone lines, it jams them all up.
The motion was called and carried.