During their recent June 1 Regular Meeting, Penticton City Council approved the Emergency Support Services (ESS) Facility and Spaces Plan. The plan identifies the primary facilities that the ESS team will try to utilize when supporting residents that have been evacuated from their homes during an emergency.
These facilities include a combination of City-owned and community partner-owned spaces like the Community Centre and the Penticton Seniors Drop-In Centre. Having a variety of spaces planned ahead of time enhances the ESS team’s preparedness.
ESS provides emergency support services during a disaster. This could include finding accommodations after a house fire for those without insurance or supporting thousands of evacuees impacted by a significant wildfire. The team plans for emergencies of various sizes and complexities, and must be ready to respond at a moment’s notice.
The plan approved by Council supports other investments being made in ESS, including:
- The City recently appointed Vicky Horton as the Emergency Support Services Director, who oversees the ESS team, after the previous director, Alida Erickson, retired in May after 14 years with ESS. Horton has been with the ESS team for over six years.
- The City recently created a new Emergency Support Services Coordinator (ESSC) staff role that oversees the entire ESS program and provides day-to-day support to the ESS team. Adam Goodwin, the City’s Social Development Specialist, has recently had these ESSC duties added to his portfolio.
- The City, using various grants and City funds, will invest another $35,000 into the ESS program over the coming 12 months, in addition to the $30,000 it invested last year to enhance the program’s ability to respond to any size of disaster/emergency in the community, region or province. These funds will go towards enhanced training, new mobile equipment and a complete overhaul of the team’s technology capabilities.
“The ESS team is comprised of nearly 40 volunteers who help our community during various disasters, including house fires, flooding, and wildfires,” said Penticton Mayor, John Vassilaki. “The team forms an integral part of ensuring we have a safe community to live, work, and age. I would encourage anyone with an interest in helping our community to consider volunteering for the ESS.”
As Penticton moves into the summer season, the City is encouraging residents to be prepared for any emergency. This includes having a 72-hour emergency kit, reviewing their insurance to make sure it will provide appropriate converge during an emergency and making a plan should they have to evacuate.
Anyone looking to volunteer can contact the ESS team at ESS@penticton.ca or 250.490.2512.