Emergency Preparedness

Tomorrow, the City is hosting an Emergency Preparedness Day event at the West End Community Centre. You can find the details here.

The City has a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan, and staff conduct regular training and exercises to ensure it’s effective. Residents are encouraged to be prepared to cope on their own for at least the first 72 hours of an emergency, so that first responders can focus on those in urgent need. You can find resources for developing an emergency preparedness plan for your family here.

Guelph’s highest risks for an emergency include extreme weather (e.g. tornado), large fire, and train derailment.

Last summer’s rail disaster in Lac-Megantic has caused some to question the safety of moving oil and other potentially dangerous substances through our community by rail. Railways are exclusively regulated by the federal government through Transport Canada.

Until recently, rail companies didn’t share information about the cargo onboard their trains. But in November 2013 the federal government directed that Canadian Class 1 railway companies that carry dangerous goods must provide designated municipal emergency planning officials with yearly aggregate information, presented by quarter, on the nature and volume of goods that they transport through the municipality. The information isn’t public, and the City is not allowed to share it publicly.

The information comes to us after the fact, rather than in advance, so the City doesn’t know in advance which dangerous substances are moving through our community by rail. But Guelph has a comprehensive emergency plan and a spills plan that would come into effect in the event of a hazardous material spill. Guelph’s Fire Department has a hazardous materials team with 30 hazardous materials technicians and others who are certified to respond. A sizeable spill would likely result in the declaration of an emergency, given that it would probably result in an evacuation, so the city’s Emergency Operations Control Group and Incident Management System would likely be activated.

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About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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