British Columbia

Lasqueti Island 'off grid' residents fight 9-1-1 system

The residents of Lasqueti Island are living up to their reputation of doing things differently, as a residents fight against adopting a 9-1-1 emergency system.

Residents want a unique solution for their remote, 'independent' lifestyle

Lasqueti Island has no paved roads and many homes are primarily accessed by boat. (Paisley Woodward/CBC)

The residents of Lasqueti Island are living up to their reputation of doing things differently, as a residents fight against adopting a 9-1-1 emergency system.

"We're a pretty independent bunch," resident Kathy Rogers told On The Island's Gregor Craigie.

"We're doing a lot of stuff on our own, and we set up our fire department quite a while ago and in the last little bit have had Powell River's assistance, but since we've had that all of a sudden we're being imposed on a whole lot of other things."

The small island is home to about 400 people, and has no paved roads, no transit, no BC Hydro, and no BC Ferries service.

If 9-1-1 service were introduced, a proper house numbering system would also have to be put in place.

"The house numbering that they want to put for our place is on a road that is a mile away from our house," said Rogers' husband David Rogers.

"That doesn't get the fire department or the 9-1-1 anywhere close to my place because the driveway and the terrain is very difficult."

David Rogers said emergency calls are now handled through an island-based dispatch centre, which better understands the island, and where people are. The new system would move the dispatch off-island.

Rogers said he isn't opposed to a 9-1-1 system in principle, but worries islanders haven't been able to give the Powell River Regional District input on how to make the system work for them.

"We don't believe [the current emergency system even meets standards of the day," said Alan Radke, the chief administrative officer with the Powell River Regional District​.

"It's quite time consuming and quite convoluted at the moment."

Radke said house numbers are needed to meet the standards for emergency services.

He said the district is listening to the concerns of residents through public meetings, but he said ultimately it has the authority to implement an emergency system without input from residents.

"We're open to any and all kinds of solutions as long as they can meet the [National Fire Protection Association] standards."

To hear more about Lasqueti Islanders' resistance to a 9-1-1 service, click the audio links:

  • 9-1-1 on Lasqueti Island: Powell River Regional District CAO Alan Radke
  • ​9-1-1 on Lasqueti Island: Islanders Kathy and David Rogers


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