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District budgets tsunami warning system

Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw was listed as having spent $17,524 total on their tsunami warning system

Port Hardy council voted to send the purchase of a tsunami warning system to next year’s budget.

“We asked staff awhile ago to bring us some more information about tsunami warning systems,” said Port Hardy Mayor Hank Bood, who then introduced Sean Mercer, manager of operations and community services for Port Hardy, to provide council with his report on tsunami warning systems.

According to a tsunami zone map provided to council, “where Port Hardy is located is at a medium risk for tsunamis,” said Mercer.

Regarding the cost, Mercer’s report stated district staff has determined it is difficult to give actual costs for installing tsunami sirens within the District of Port Hardy based on the following information and important considerations:

- carrying out a local threat assessment based on probable area and time of impact, hazard and evacuation zone mapping, available inundation modelling, and local science interpretation and advice;

- coverage refers to the specific communities and areas to be covered using sirens, and the decision-making processes around this. Coverage areas can be influenced by a range of local factors including the nature of the community at risk, environmental factors, cost/benefit, archaeology assessments, community demand and the willingness of the community to fund siren systems;

- the siting and installation of sirens plays an important role in their audibility and effectiveness, and it is important to consider ambient noise levels, terrain conditions and local climate influences when determining suitable locations for sirens.

Mercer’s report listed the financial costs from other neighbouring communities for the purchase and installation of tsunami sirens. Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw was listed as having spent $17,524 total on their warning system.

“So this gives council a bit of an idea of what it would cost to do things,” said Bood, who asked for a motion from council.

Coun. John Tidbury asked for it to be sent to budget for next year. Council agreed to the request.

“I just want to make a comment,” said Bood, who stated he doesn’t think an actual tsunami has much likelihood of hitting Port Hardy due to the shape of the island. “We need to be careful with what we’re going to be spending money on in the future — we’re going to have to take a real good look at this, as it might not be money well spent from a practical point of view.”

Council will make a decision on whether to purchase a tsunami warning system or not at next year’s budget meeting.

Tyson Whitney

About the Author: Tyson Whitney

I have been working in the community newspaper business for nearly a decade, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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