Friday, January 26, 2007

Snow/emergency procedures

A message to the SFU community from the Administration: Following that last big snowstorm and all the traffic chaos, the University has been looking hard at how it can improve its emergency procedures and communications.

From staff, administrators, faculty, students, employee and faculty groups and emergency experts, we have compiled a long list of ideas and excellent advice. We also plan further discussions with TransLink, the RCMP and the City of Burnaby, among others.

Our latest meeting, Wednesday afternoon, was with the Employee Council. That group presented a menu of suggestions, and, as have others, stressed that the university needs to have and to publicize an updated disaster plan that encompasses more than just snowstorms.

Among the ideas we have collected so far:
  • Better and more direct traffic control, using security staff and/or highway gates to stagger the flow of traffic, and thus to avoid the gridlock that quickly developed on January 10.
  • Better communication of more detailed and more frequent information to the community of road and weather conditions and outlook.
  • Better communication with TransLink and the City of Burnaby.
  • More avenues of communication, perhaps including electronic reader-boards at the bus loops on which we can post the latest information.
  • Provision of more information to the community about where people can go, stay and eat if they are stranded on the mountain.
From all of this consultation and these submissions, the University and its new emergency planner are developing new procedures for snow emergencies—and for others that might occur on campus, or necessitate closing the roads down the mountain.

As the University community grows and increasingly uses public transit, we need better and more reliable ways of getting information and updates from TransLink. We now have closed that loop, and will get more timely information.

And with the roads down the mountain all meeting at a single choke-point (the traffic lights on Gaglardi Way) we clearly need reliable traffic control there. Even in good weather, something like the crash of a truck carrying hazardous materials could close all the roads for hours. Among the suggestions we have discussed is a webcam at the intersection. Thank you to all who have contributed ideas and advice on how the University can better make its decisions on closure and better serve and communicate with you in such circumstances.

The university certainly wants to do its best to save you from having to again go through such stress, uncertainty, and a shortage of timely information. We believe we can do things better in the future, and very much regret the experiences the community suffered on January 10. Work on emergency planning continues. All such plans will be shared with you in detail.

A message to the SFU community from the Administration, sent from the email of:
Don MacLachlan
Director, Public Affairs and Media Relations
Simon Fraser University
Strand Hall - #2200
8888 University Drive
Burnaby BC V5A 1S6

Phone: 604-291-3929
Cell: 604-763-3929
Fax: 604-291-3039