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GPREP has been a valuable resource to Beaverlodge: Rycroft

Beaverlodge council will consider reform to the Grande Prairie Regional Emergency Partnership (GPREP) with a new Regional Emergency Committee Bylaw Monday.

Council gave first reading to the bylaw during its regular meeting March 9 and will table it for final approval March 23.

“GPREP is a vey valuable thing and has been useful to the entire area,” said mayor Gary Rycroft.

GPREP is a formal partnership between the city and county of Grande Prairie, Beaverlodge, Sexsmith, Wembley and Hythe to manage disaster responses.

“If we have a major incident, we all get together and share resources - anything from management to emergency equipment,” he said.

“One of the things that can happen very quickly is that your fire crews and management can get tired out, and there’s always enough people from our regional partners to come in and take their place.” 

While the fire departments have mutual-aid agreements, Rycroft noted GPREP is a more comprehensive agreement than can be invoked in any emergency.

The only time GPREP was operational within the Town of Beaverlodge was during the August 2018 flood, he said.

In that case, chief Stan Metcalfe co-ordinated with the GPREP command centre to order equipment, trucks and manpower, Rycroft said.

Rycroft said there were some communications issues because GPREP had never worked in Beaverlodge before, but they have been resolved.

Beaverlodge pays a requisition for GPREP. Tina Letendre, acting chief administrative officer, said the 2019 requisition was $10,300. 

Letendre added it’s too early to say what the town will pay after the new bylaw.

Reform is required to meet provincial legislative requirements, according to Jennifer Wood, GPREP program co-ordinator.

Wood said each municipality needs to approve an identical bylaw by April 1.

County council approved GPREP reform Feb. 24 and Sexsmith council followed March 2.

Rycroft said Wood is invited to the March 23 meeting so councillors can ask questions. One question Rycroft raised was what the need isfor a new staff position. Under section 15, the position would be appointed by council to carry out the duties of the GPREP Regional Emergency Management Agency.

Coun. Cal Mosher said it’s his understanding GPREP will choose a person familiar with disaster services.

Wood said that aside from herself, there is one other staff position at GPREP and it is currently vacant.

Rycroft also questioned the Regional Emergency Management Committee being able to declare a state of emergency or declare an end of an emergency under section six, when council can do that.

The committee is made up of a councillor from each municipality and appointed by each council.

Coun. Cal Mosher’s motion for first reading was carried.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News

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