Building community resilience is one of the top focused areas in the Ottawa 2024 priorities of emergency preparedness as the City of Ottawa is developing a new emergency management strategy and public alerting system to enhance emergency response and adapt to the new realities of climate change.

Advancing ways to increase communication and information sharing, and working with community groups and associations to better prepare for emergencies are the two main key points the Ottawa Public Safety Service is going to work on, which includes finding other methods than texting to inform the public.  

In a presentation before the Emergency Preparedness and Protective Services Committee on March 21, 2024, the director of the Public Safety Service Beth Gooding said the weather events Ottawa has experienced in recent years illustrate the importance of building a climate resilience strategy that considers the demographic differences.

“A one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for our city,” Gooding said

”We have residents who continue to experience systemic barriers to opportunity, and it’s worth noting our large geography because what we are acutely aware of is that residents in urban, suburban, and rural areas experience emergencies differently.”

Gooding pointed out that Ottawa’s dependence on critical infrastructure, in particular hydroelectricity and telecommunications, presents additional risks.

Last year Ottawa experienced extreme weather events, including an ice storm in April that downed trees and caused widespread power outages to tornados and flooding in the summer.

Gooding also said the Public Safety Service has been working with Ottawa Food Bank and their partners to finesse Ottawa’s emergency food security protocol, considering the aging population in the capital as well as the suburban and rural areas where people could experience difficulties in reaching out basic needs.

“It is really a best practice in emergency management to focus on the needs of those residents who face the most systemic barriers to opportunity, because in so doing, we better support the entire population,” Gooding said

“Our city readiness is really about the training and exercise that we get to staff to prepare for the next emergency.”