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B.C. announces centralized booking system for evacuees needing hotel rooms

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WATCH: With all signs pointing to a hot, dry season ahead, B.C. forests Minister Bruce Ralston discusses what the province is doing to mitigate and manage the wildfire threat. – Apr 30, 2024

A pilot project regarding emergency evacuees needing hotel rooms was introduced in B.C. this week.

The project, a partnership between the provincial government and the BC Hotel Association, is aimed at helping people who are forced to flee their homes because of an emergency and need a place to stay.

“When thousands of people are forced to evacuate their homes at once due to emergencies such as wildfires or flooding, coordinating emergency supports for evacuees can become challenging,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness.

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“This tool will play an important role in helping Emergency Support Services responders secure suitable accommodations for evacuees who need it, as soon as they need it.”

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Starting in June, evacuees will be able to access an online booking system when a climate crisis strikes, including wildfire or flooding. The pilot project will start in Kelowna, Kamloops and Prince George and will expand from there.

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“The innovative system aims to expedite evacuees to safe shelter with increased speed and coordination, ensuring seamless collaboration in real-time,” said the BC Hotel Association.

The reservation system “ensures efficient coordination in times of crisis” and “live availability information eliminates the need for manual calls to hotels, providing prompt updates on accommodations availability.”

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“We have worked closely with accommodation providers, regional partners and government to coordinate the implementation of the portal, and we are so proud of the collective efforts that went in to make this happen,” said Ingrid Jarrett, president and CEO of the BC Hotel Association.

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“When an emergency happens, it is critical people know where they can go for refuge and have the necessary support available to them,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport.

“We expect the new commercial lodging reservation system will make it easier for Emergency Support Services responders to help people secure a place to stay and find relief during an emergency event or evacuation, whether they are residents, visitors to our province or emergency personnel.”

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