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HRM Councilor says the province needs to provide a better evacuation plan for schools in the face of emergencies

By Joe Thomson Sep 25, 2023 | 3:08 PM

Halifax Regional Councilor for district 13, Pam Lovelace. (Source: Halifax Regional Municipality).

Thousands of people had to evacuate their homes when wildfires tore through the HRM this summer. Fortunately, it happened on a weekend, but one city councillor says we need to have a plan in place in case an emergency like this happens while kids are in school.

Pam Lovelace is the councillor for District 13, which includes Hamonds Plains, an area that was hit hard by the fires. She says there are two schools within the impacted area and had kids been in class, it would have been a nightmare trying to evacuate them.

Currently, students in Nova Scotia practice for emergencies by simulating evacuations, but they only simulate instances when they need to leave the building, not the entire area.

“My concern is that at this point in time, we don’t have a good understanding, as the municipality, where the schools are going to be relocating to if there is a wildfire, for example. We don’t know what resources are needed from the municipality to support the Nova Scotia Department of Education,” said Lovelace.

At tomorrow’s council meeting, Lovelace says she plans on bringing the issue up with her colleagues. She says she’s received nothing but support so far on the matter and have their same concerns about their districts.

“Every single district in this municipality is struggling with a lack of evacuation relocation planning, but not only for schools, for daycares, for long term care facilities. This is a much broader conversation, and we have to make sure we’re planning for this appropriately,” said Lovelace.

The HRM has been hit with severe flooding, and a recent hurricane on top of the earlier wildfires. As climate change makes these events more and more frequent, the more urgent the need for proper planning becomes, according to Lovelace.

“We can’t rely on luck anymore. We have to plan for this appropriately, we need to make sure that schools are resourced, that it’s communicated, that the municipalities all across the province know what the plan is when kids have to evacuate a school,” said Lovelace.

Tomorrow’s council meeting is at 6 p.m. at City Hall.