Evacuating Squamish

Sea to Sky Multimodal Evacuation Plan reveals strategies and processes for a mass emergency evacuation of our community

Where will Squamish residents go during an emergency evacuation? How many people will require assistance to evacuate? How many evacuees will require shelter? The District of Squamish has completed the draft Sea to Sky Multimodal Evacuation Plan, a proactive plan that answers key evacuation planning questions, and outlines steps the District would take in the event of a mass evacuation. The Plan details complete evacuation scenarios for the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and District of Squamish to the north or south using the existing highway system and other modes of transportation, including rail, ferry, and air.

Developed in partnership with the RMOW, the plan is based on a review of best practices, debrief reports from B.C.’s 2016 and 2017 flood and wildfire seasons, and other evacuation planning models. A steering committee comprised of representatives from the Squamish Nation, BC Ferries, BC Wildfire Service, BC Transit, Canadian Red Cross, Emergency Management BC and other agencies provided expertise and input into the plan.

“We live in a region prone to hazards that could result in a mass evacuation, and we take our emergency planning role very seriously, especially in a time of climate change and growing intensity of flood and wildfire events,” says District of Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott. “An incredible amount of technical work and expertise has gone into developing this plan and we commend everyone for their efforts over the past several months. We encourage the community to familiarize themselves with the plan, to know their evacuation zones and muster points, and to prepare at home with a 72-hour emergency kit that includes copies of critical documents and any required medication family members may need. We all need to be prepared to respond quickly in case of an emergency.”

Procedures for issuing an evacuation alert, evacuation order and phased neighbourhood evacuation are outlined in the plan, as well as a detailed system for distributing public information as quickly as possible.

“This is a living plan that will be updated on an ongoing basis with new information on population, road access, vehicle ownership statistics and other key indicators,” says the District’s Emergency Coordinator Megan Latimer. “This raw data allows us to create evacuation design scenarios that determine everything from the total estimated number of evacuees in Squamish, the potential number of vehicles based on current population estimates, predicted destinations and estimated number of people who may require evacuation assistance or group lodging. These factors also help to estimate the time that would be required to evacuate each neighbourhood under various scenarios.”

Residents can expect to hear about various opportunities to become familiar with the plan in the coming weeks.

To learn more about emergency preparedness in Squamish and to view the plan visit https://squamish.ca/assets/Uploads/Evacuation-Plan.pdf. To sign up for the District’s emergency alert system go to http://squamish.ca/alert.

May 17, 2019

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Comments

  • Dora Wint May 21, 2019

    Thank you. I have been concerned about a major evacuation plan for a while now.

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