© Dave Stewart/The Guardian
Charlottetown Fire Chief Randy MacDonald has been working on expanding the city's emergency response plan for prolonged power outages for the past few months. A memorandum of understanding has been reached with the English Language School Board on using the 13 schools in the city as emergency shelters, and talks are ongoing in terms of using school buses for transportation.
A number of partners are jumping on board to help the City of Charlottetown develop an emergency plan in the event of lengthy power outages.
Mayor Clifford Lee said last month he asked the city's fire chief, Randy MacDonald, to look into the cost of purchasing generators and developing a protocol with Maritime Electric.
Such a plan would see the utility inform the city corporation when power goes out in any part of the capital and if it might be out for an extended period of time.
At council's monthly public meeting on Monday night, Coun. Kevin Ramsay, chairman of advanced planning, priorities and special projects, said the city is working on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the English Language School Board that would see the 13 schools in the city serve as emergency shelters.
It will cost the city around $4 million to purchase generators for those 13 schools.
"If we happen to lose power, we're in contact with Maritime Electric knowing what spots don't have power and how soon it's going to be out,'' Ramsay said.
MacDonald said it's the extended power outages they're concerned about.
"If it's out for an extended period of time, Maritime Electric will contact the city, at which time we will have to make a decision as to whether we'll have to open emergency shelters or not,'' MacDonald said.
"We've got the transportation needs satisfied. Now we're working on putting generators in all 13 schools within the city, which is a big undertaking, but that's the direction we're moving in." Charlottetown Fire Chief Randy MacDonald
If the decision is made that the need to open shelters exists, the Canadian Red Cross would be contacted.
Right now, the city has a MOU with the CARI complex and with the two Atlantic Superstore locations to serve as shelters. Coach Atlantic Group is also on board for transportation needs.
Work is also underway to reach a MOU with Sobeys and the English Language School Board for additional busing needs.
"We've got the transportation needs satisfied. Now we're working on putting generators in all 13 schools within the city, which is a big undertaking, but that's the direction we're moving in,'' MacDonald said.
The city also has its own community buildings in neighbourhoods like Hillsborough Park, Sherwood, East Royalty and West Royalty.
Lee said it was time to put a plan in place after a storm in early December resulted in widespread power outages across the province. Some customers were without power for more than a day.
Lee said he was made aware of a seniors' building that went without heat for 21 hours, calling that "unacceptable".
"We need to have a place where we can move people out of their homes and into these community centres,'' Lee said.
Costs associated with this plan could be part of the 2016 municipal budget, which will be delivered in late March.