Peace River wildfire evacuee reception centre costs topped $655,700

Susan Thompson
Express Staff

A new report on the wildfire evacuee reception centre operated by Peace River shows the costs to operate the centre were up to a total of $655,710.01 as of July 4.

The reception centre served hundreds of wildfire evacuees through thousands of hours of staff and volunteer time while it operated from May 22 to June 20.

Tanya Bell of community services presented a more detailed report on the centre’s operation at the most recent council meeting.

The report included statistics on hours of operation, staff time, hours by day and hours by organization to show the various other organizations that were involved in helping at the centre.

Bell noted that the statistics do not include the park staff who came and cleaned the facility every single day and work by public works dropping off sandbags and other tasks.

“The good news story is that we recently received direction to bill the province one invoice directly, as opposed to the previous direction which was invoice each and every community that we provided service to,” Bell said.

“So that would have been nine different communities that we would have had to develop some sort of rational behind how we were splitting out all of our staff time and all of the costs by community which would have been a bit of challenge.”

Bell said a “heads-up” invoice has already been sent to the province, and a final invoice will be sent in a couple of weeks.

At the suggestion from Councillor Don Good, council moved to send a thank you letter to the provincial government.

“They could have left the recommendation as it was,” Good said. “Whoever was on the other end of that deserves commendation for real common sense and for doing something that has saved us a large amount of bookwork and time and effort in supporting other people, our fellow citizens across the province.”

“I know Tanya that you had mentioned that all community services staff are trained to handle there whereas in other areas they would have just one or two people trained, so it certainly stood us in good stead I guess this time, eh?” asked Deputy Mayor Elaine Manzer.

“Boy did it ever,” Bell agreed. “It’s a policy that we will maintain.”

“It worked.”

Bell said a debriefing and thank you barbeque for those who helped operate the centre is being planned for later in August.

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