Cache Creek council has deferred a decision about joining the Voyent Alert Emergency Notification System, asking staff to bring more information back to the next meeting.
At their meeting on Feb. 16, council discussed a recommendation authorizing staff to enter into an agreement with Voyent Alert. Their Emergency Notification System, which has been adopted by the TNRD and the Village of Ashcroft, allows residents to receive alerts for critical events in the community such as floods or wildfires through an app, text message, voice call via phone, or email.
The cost would be $1,440 per year (unlimited users and unlimited communications) or $1,200 (pay as you go). As of April 2021, if the village took part then anyone registered to get the TNRD alerts would also receive Cache Creek ones, and vice versa.
“From an emergency point of view I see benefit in it,” said Coun. Sue Peters. “Some people don’t have email, some don’t use computers, and there is an option for a phone call. It would give more options, especially when things are critical like we’ve had in the last couple of years on a number of occasions.”
CAO Martin Dalsin noted that when people sign up for the service they check off which notices they want to receive. Mayor Santo Talarico asked staff to check with the TNRD to see if Cache Creek is part of the program the regional district has already paid into, and that the village see about pursuing that avenue rather than committing to the cost.
Dalsin said Cache Creek residents could get notices by signing up for the TNRD program, but that the village could not post their own notices to that site. “If we want to be able to post things … we need to have our own [program]. The TNRD only posts their own notices.”
Noting that the system could be used for postings about emergencies as well as ones about items such as late garbage pick-up, Talarico asked what sort of notices the village would be using the system for. “Both,” said Coun. Wendy Coomber. “If we have it we might as well use it. But primarily for emergencies.”
“If it’s for emergencies, if we did it in conjunction with the regional district we would save $1,200 per year,” said Talarico.
“Yes,” replied Dalsin. “However, we would have to send them the information to post, and the only people who would get it would be people who had signed up for that service with the TNRD.” He also noted that the motion was to go with the $1,440 unlimited option.
Coun. Annette Pittman asked if it was an option to go to next year and also to go with the $1,200 option and see what the extra cost would be. Dalsin said he could look into that and bring it back to council, adding he did not know if there would be a significant difference with the pay as you go option.
Peters said that if the village piggybacked onto the TNRD there would have to be a public education component. She also asked if there would be a cost for requesting the TNRD to send out alerts on the village’s behalf.
Talarico said there would be no cost, and that technically the village was already paying into the TNRD service. He added that notices about garbage pick-up should be on the village’s Facebook page, and that the TNRD would be involved with the village in the event of an emergency situation anyway, so the transfer of information would already happen very quickly. “It’s just an educational process we would have to go through. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s money.”
Coomber asked if she would also get alerts for Merritt if she signed up with the TNRD system. Talarico and Coun. Lisa Dafoe said that users tailored the system to their needs. Coomber then asked if she would get notices about flooding, which happens all over the region, or flooding in Cache Creek specifically. “We should look into that,” replied Talarico.
After discussing possible amendments, Coomber — who made the original motion — asked if it could be deferred until staff found out more information. Dalsin said it could be tabled and brought back within a time frame specified by council.
Dafoe noted that the freshet is coming: “It would be nice to have some kind of preparedness.” Dalsin agreed, saying it would be nice to have some kind of alert system for everyone. Without defeating the original motion, council passed a motion from Pittman asking for the matter to be brought back to the next council meeting (on March 1) with more information.