New pandemic plan unveiled at City Hall

The new Joint Municipality Pandemic Plan is now complete.

The draft of that plan was presented at North Battleford’s Planning Committee meeting of council on Monday. As has been the case recently, the meeting was conducted remotely on the Zoom platform.

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The joint plan had been in the works for some time. Council had adopted a Pandemic Plan at its meeting in early March, based on an already-existing document at City Hall.

The intention at that time had been to bring back a more comprehensive policy in coordination with the Town of Battleford and get it approved.

Monday night, Fire Chief Lindsay Holm thanked council for adopting their old plan, which gave them enough time to “get into making sure we had a real sound workable plan.”

The new plan was one Holm said would “serve the city for many years to come.” He also credited City Manager Randy Patrick for bringing it forward.

“We got out of the gate early with it and that prepared us as a city far better than most municipalities,” said Holm.

Among the main items in the new pandemic plan is the section entitled “Service Provision for Municipal Staff.” That section spelled out what the priority services were with the various departments of the city, as well as community impact issues and the action plan for each one in the event of a pandemic situation.

“It really outlines for anybody that’s coming into the city in any type of position will understand where they sit in this plan and what they need to do if another pandemic should hit,” said Holm.

“I think this plan is going to give us great flexibility in terms of being able to mould into any type of pandemic, not just what we’re facing today with the COVID-19.”

The new plan is based on one already developed in Fredericton, which was an “ISO-compliant” plan – ISO refers to International Organization for Standardization. Holm said that assisted them greatly in terms of developing what their needs were going to be as a city.

The new plan is also considerably larger than the existing one that was adopted — up to 69 pages. Holm said a lot of work had gone into the document by all the directors and administrative assistants.

Holm also expressed the importance of reviewing the document annually so that it is always up to date and suits their needs.

“We do want to make sure we have that fluid document for the city so that we are able to mitigate anything that does come our way.”

In his comments, Patrick added that this document was done in conjunction with the Town of Battleford and that it is being shared on an ongoing basis.

Patrick also said he didn’t know of any other communities who were doing a joint plan between two communities.

Mayor Ryan Bater said at the meeting that this was “formal recognition that we are one community. The interactivity is daily, it’s constant, and this doesn’t really work unless we do this together.”

Bater also supported the idea of annual reviews and noted this would be one document that doesn’t sit on a shelf.

“I don’t think people are going to forget the COVID-19 pandemic any time soon. I think this will be top of mind for at least the next several years and I think this will be a document that’s referenced constantly.”

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