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Charlottetown needs funding to start putting generators in schools

Charlottetown Fire Chief Randy MacDonald, who is also the city’s emergency measures co-ordinator, said the city has a plan to put generators in more buildings around the city if and when a funding source opens up.
Charlottetown Fire Chief Randy MacDonald, who is also the city’s emergency measures co-ordinator, said the city has a plan to put generators in more buildings around the city if and when a funding source opens up. - Dave Stewart

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Some members of Charlottetown city council want to see schools and more community buildings outfitted with generators in the event of a significant power outage.

Councillors Mitchell Tweel and Bob Doiron spoke about the late November storm that robbed parts of the Island of power for four days.

Tweel asked the protective and emergency services committee to look at outfitting schools in Charlottetown with generators so the buildings could be utilized as warming centres.

During the past storm, the city opened the Hillsborough and West Royalty community centres.

Using his ward as an example, Tweel said he would prefer to see schools like St. Jean and Birchwood also available.

“A lot of parents are single parents and don’t have vehicles,’’ Tweel said.

Doiron asked the committee to look into installing a generator in the Sherwood Recreation Hall.

Charlottetown Fire Chief Randy MacDonald, the city’s emergency measures co-ordinator, said the city is ready to start putting generators in buildings that don’t have them.

It would cost $6 million to outfit all 14 schools in the city with a generator.

“Back a couple of years ago we went to the schools. We hired an electrical consultant who evaluated each school separately to see what sized generator it would take and a budget cost to have one purchased and installed so we have that information,’’ MacDonald said.

“We have information on upgrading the generators here at the fire station and City Hall. We have those numbers ready to go should a funding stream ever open up and we get some funding.’’

Tweel suggested reaching out to the province for help.

MacDonald told The Guardian the both Hillsborough and West Royalty community centres were well utilized during the last storm but never reached capacity.

MacDonald also noted that if anyone in the city who didn’t have power wanted to go to one of the warming centres that transportation would have been provided free of charge by Atlantic Coach Tours.

“We had public works (officials) knocking on (seniors’ housing) doors to make sure they’re OK. If they had wanted to go to a warming centre we had a bus on standby.’’

Mayor Philip Brown said the Confederation Centre of the Arts, which has a generator, has offered its facilities should they be needed as a warming centre in the event of another major power outage. The Malcolm Darrach Centre in the East Royalty neighbourhood is also outfitted with a generator.

MacDonald said the city has a detailed emergency measures plan ready to go at a moment’s notice. A binder full of lists of buildings with and without generators, food retailers, gas stations and more sits not far away from his desk. The binder even includes a plan for pets.

“This will be our go-to start plan and everybody has numbers and names and contacts and a list of tasks to complete.’’


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