British Columbia

'This is only a test': British Columbians receive 2nd emergency alert test

Phones across the Lower Mainland emitted a blaring alert tone in unison on Wednesday at 1:55 p.m.

But some residents still left in dark, says Union Gospel Mission

B.C. tested its emergency alert system for the second time in 2018. More users reported receiving the message this time around, though some people say they still aren't getting the alert. (CBC)

Phones across B.C.'s Lower Mainland emitted a blaring alert tone in unison on Wednesday at 1:55 p.m.

It was part of the Alert Ready program, a collaborative initiative between federal, provincial and territorial governments to warn the public of imminent disasters.

Wednesday's warning was the second time the system was tested.

The first alert went out in May and revealed several glitches. There were reports that many British Columbians did not receive the alert on their phones.

Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness, said more people were reached during Wednesday's alert, but there's still room for improvement.

"There's no perfect system where we're going to hit 100 per cent of the people we need to, but we want to keep expanding and reaching as many people as possible."

Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness, says the government has been working on fixing glitches with the emergency alert system. (CBC)

For the alerts to work, phones should be running on the latest operating system and must be connected to an LTE or 4G network.

Concerns over accessibility

The alerts also air on television and radio.

Jeremy Hunka, spokesperson for the Union Gospel Mission said not everyone has phones, particularly homeless and elderly people.

"Some will receive these alerts. But not everybody will, and just like poor air quality and extreme weather, our guests will be most at risk in the case of an emergency," said Hunka.

"And they may not get the warnings everyone else gets." 

Jeremy Hunka with the Union Gospel Mission said there are concerns about the accessibility of B.C.'s emergency alert notifications for the elderly and homeless. (CBC)

The system will be used to notify people of potential tsunamis, with plans to expand to other emergencies in the future.

The B.C. RCMP will also be able to use the system to notify of Amber Alerts.

CBC BC asked viewers on Facebook and Twitter to weigh in on whether they received today's notification. Here's what some of you had to say:

with files from Sean Murphy and Tina Lovgreen


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