The City of Merritt voted unanimously to support an application for grant funding for its emergency operation centre (EOC) during the latest meeting, Feb. 27.

According to a report to council from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Cynthia White, the grant intends to help the ongoing training and development of City of Merritt staff to effectively operate an emergency operations centre.

The EOC grant is looking for a total of $16,000 funded by the Union of BC Municipalities’ (UBCM) Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF).

According to the UBCM website, the CEPF is a suite of funding streams intended to enhance the resilience of local governments, First Nations and communities in responding to emergencies.

The fund also aims to reduce risks from future disasters due to natural hazards and climate-related risks.

According to city report, the training plan aims to locally host emergency operation centre essentials for as many staff as possible; to travel to other in-person training for section leads and secondary staff for 10 staff members; and an incident command system hosted locally for all staff and facilitated by the Merritt Fire & Rescue department.

A permanent emergency operations centre (EOC) has recently been established at the Merritt Airport, a longtime side project of past Emergency Program Coordinator Krista Minar that is now coming to fruition.

As previously reported by the Herald, Merritt is one of only few communities throughout the province now to have a permanent EOC ready to go at any time.

The facility includes a separate generator, internet capabilities, and a kitchen set up.

The area is set up like a war room – desks are lined up and stacked with binders laying out evacuation plans, coloured vests drape over the backs of chairs for task force delegation – all ready to command as an operations centre at the drop of a hat.