Sponsors: Peace River Regional District
Endorsed by the NCLGA and UBCM Memberships
WHEREAS British Columbia has many man-made dams on its rivers and streams throughout the Province and these infrastructures create man-made hazards that the general public needs to be informed of as well as of the potential risks and impacts they create;
AND WHEREAS while the current Dam Safety Regulation (BC Reg 163/2011) requires dam permit holders to prepare and maintain emergency plans, there are no provisions to require dam permit holders to inform and educate the general public on the hazards, risks and impacts associated with their infrastructures before or during an emergency event:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that NCLGA and UBCM request the Province of British Columbia to enact changes to legislation/regulation that would require dam permit holders to prepare all-encompassing emergency management plans that include requirements for dam permit holders to conduct public education, develop comprehensive public notification procedures and assist in the coordination of emergency response and recovery efforts to ensure the safety of the public.
UBCM Comments: The UBCM membership has not previously considered a resolution calling on the provincial government to require dam permit holders to prepare all-encompassing emergency plans, and require the permit holders to conduct public education, develop comprehensive public notification procedures and assist in the coordination of emergency response and recovery efforts as part of the permit holders’ emergency management plans.
In BC the statutory obligations for dam owners for emergency planning are fairly low; the owner of a dam that has a classification of significant, high, very high or extreme (based on dam failure consequences) must prepare an emergency preparedness plan that describes the action to be taken in the event of an emergency at the dam. The emergency plan is quite basic in that it only includes the names of contact persons, access routes and who should be notified downstream of the dam. In the event of an emergency, the dam owner must notify those who are in immediate danger and undertake any other hazard response activity required by a dam safety officer or engineer, or the comptroller or regional water manager.
For example, in the case of an emergency at the Peace Canyon or WAC Bennett Dam on the Peace River, BC Hydro as the dam owner only notifies the potentially affected local government of the emergency and does not notify the residents or businesses that could be impacted. As a matter of preparedness these residents and businesses are not made aware by the dam owner of the hazard, risk or potential impact that these man-made structures hold. Dam owners have the expertise to provide proper public education on the hazard they have created, develop comprehensive public notification procedures and assist in the coordination of emergency response and recovery efforts to ensure the safety of the public.