District requests Emergency Exercise exemption to Premier
District of Muskoka Chair, John Klinck issued a letter to the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, on June 1, 2022, requesting an exemption from the provincial Annual Emergency Exercise.
On behalf of the District, Klinck expressed concerns regarding the mandatory annual practice required of Ontario municipalities.
While understanding the importance of simulating an emergency situation designed to validate procedures, training, and optimal levels of performance, Klinck indicates that the District encourages exemptions for municipalities that have “responded to an actual emergency during the respective calendar year.”
In Klink’s letter, he indicated, “In 2021 the District’s Emergency Control Group (ECG) convened 24 times, amounting to approximately 435 hours spent on emergency related activities.”
Emergency incidents for the OCG included a watermain break in Bracebridge, which according to the firm Murray Advisory Services, achieved the goals of an emergency exercise.
Klinck added that the 12 recommendations in the report by the Murray firm were used to help improve the impact of a second water disruption in Gravenhurst a few weeks later.
Considering the number of “actual emergencies” the ECG are still required to be compliant with the annual exercise, which according to Klinck, “This is not an efficient use of municipal resources and does not serve as a useful training mechanism for staff that have been over-extended by the emergency situations they have managed over the past year.”
In 2020, a one-time exemption was allowed to municipalities given COVID-19, considering the issues they were managing at the time. Klinck adds, “If pandemic management warrants an exemption to the annual simulation, surely there must be grounds to grant an exemption for the management of other emergency situations.”