First responders on the side of the Island Highway near the boundary between Lantzville and Nanoose Bay. The RDN will study evacuation routes in the area. NEWS BULLETIN file photo

RDN seeks funding to help plan evacuation routes for Nanoose Bay

Concerns exist over current access, limited to one highway in some areas

If disaster strikes, there is a concern communities in Nanoose Bay, Lantzville and the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation will experience delayed emergency response times due to access issues.

The Regional District of Nanaimo wants to address this and the board, at a meeting earlier this month, agreed to seek funding to create emergency evacuation plans.

There is only one highway going in and out of parts of those communities in Electoral Area E (Nanoose Bay), which has been identified in the 2010 community wildfire protection plan as having an extreme fire hazard. Seablush Drive and Morello Road were cited in 2017 and 2018 as priority areas requiring evacuation plans.

The RDN will look into the availability of money throught the community emergency preparedness fund initiated by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities in 2017. The criteria of the funding now includes evacuation route planning.

“With Highway 19, a main traffic artery on the Island with as many as 700 vehicles per hour travelling in each direction, bisecting our communities, it is a critical need to complete evacuation route planning for the RDN Electoral Area E, the District of Lantzville and Nanoose (Snaw-Naw-As) First Nation,” said Lantzville CAO Ronald Campbell, in a letter supporting the RDN’s application for funding.

Although Seablush and Morello were identified as priorities, there is a need for evacuation route planning for the entire Electoral Area E, Lantzville and Nanoose First Nations, according to the report.

The RDN and the District of Lantzville are eligible to apply for grant funding. The RDN will make the application for Area E and also on Lantzville’s behalf.

The collaboration between the RDN and Lantsville, staff indicated, would increase funding and also provide the ability for a more comprehensive plan with co-ordinated multi-agency response to evacuation needs.

The RDN board endorsed the grant application for $25,000 for the completion of evacuation route planning.

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