The most important items in any emergency kit should be drinking water, a radio and flashlight. (The News files)

The most important items in any emergency kit should be drinking water, a radio and flashlight. (The News files)

Province gives almost $40,000 to Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Seniors Network

Money will go towards building emergency preparedness template to help vulnerable populations

The Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Seniors Network has received just shy of $40,000 in funding from the province for emergency planning and response.

On Friday the government announced that the organization – one of 15 recipients across B.C. – would be receiving $39,783 in funding.

The money will be going towards an emergency preparedness project the network has been working on these past two years.

“The project was started a couple of years ago prior to the start of the pandemic. We were in the phase of building the video project and realized we really needed a mechanism for getting the information out there and doing some additional training that involved people one-on-one and in person,” explained Heather Treleaven, coordinator of the Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Katzie Seniors Network

“We are very excited about this project and the possibility of expanding on the work that we’ve already done with the emergency preparedness for seniors guide and the inclusive video. It just seemed like a natural next step to take that information further into the community,” she said.

An initial project was first started in 2016 with federal funding from the New Horizons for Seniors Program to create an emergency preparedness guide for seniors.

The second project , also with New Horizons funding, was the creation of an accessible video called Emergency Preparedness – What Everyone Needs to Know that premiered in October.

Versions of this video, done in partnership with the City of Pitt Meadows, are available with sign language, closed captioning and descriptive text on YouTube and on the the City of Pitt Meadows website.

This new funding will go towards the network’s third project, a tool for emergency planning called: Safety for Everyone: A Disability Inclusive Emergency Preparedness Template for BC Local Authorities. The aim of this tool is to build a template to help B.C. communities develop emergency response plans that address the needs of people with disabilities.

“The goal, to provide a tool for emergency management professionals that empowers them to engage their community in solution building and establishing the necessary procedures, resources and necessary support from key stakeholders to respond effectively to the needs of people with disabilities in the event of an emergency,” explained Treleaven.

READ MORE: Seniors helping seniors with emergency preparedness

The grants – through B.C.’s Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction – are to help with increasing accessibility, allowing more people to participate fully in their community.

Bob D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission noted that communities are only strengthened when issues are addressed that create barriers faced by people with disabilities.

“I’m grateful to be a part of a government that is committed to doing this work by empowering people with disabilities and making life better for all British Columbians,” he said.

This is the fourth year in a row government grants have been available to not-for-profits to build a more inclusive society – by enhancing inclusion for people with disabilities across the province in areas like employment, emergency planning and response, arts, culture and tourism, sports and recreation, education and learning, and community participation.

ALSO: Pitt Meadows releases emergency preparedness film educating seniors and vulnerable population

Over the last three years, 44 community projects have been funded by the province. More than $450,000 was handed out this year.

The grants were evaluated by Disability Alliance BC in partnership with the B.C. Government.

“Our government knows how important it is to have community-based accessibility programs. Local leaders and organizations like the Katzie Seniors Network know how to use funding like this in the most meaningful ways. I look forward to seeing how this project come to life,” said Lisa Beare, MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows.

Treleaven noted that often emergency planning focuses on the general community and overlooks needs for vulnerable populations. What makes this project great is because it is community-based and includes the lived experience of people with disabilities and seniors.

“Making it a really effective framework,” she said.

And, she added, the money they received will allow them to do the project properly and have they reach that they intended.

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