The Alberni Valley Emergency Operations Centre will be testing its new alert system for the first time on Wednesday, March 3.
Heather Zenner, the protective services manager for the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, explained that the alerts are scheduled to take place monthly at the same time as the tsunami warning system tests. This means alerts will be sent out at 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month.
The very first test is scheduled for Wednesday, March 3 at 1 p.m. People who sign up for Voyent Alert! can choose if they want notifications sent through the mobile app, through text messages, through email or through voice call.
The Voyent Alert! system was launched in January 2021. Zenner said that the alert system has seen more than 1,200 people in the Alberni Valley and Bamfield sign up so far.
“That’s a pretty good uptake, for being up and running just over a month,” said Zenner.
Voyent Alert! differs from the provincial alert program, as the provincial system is only used for tsunami warnings. Instead, Voyent Alert! allows the Alberni Valley EOC to send alerts to residents impacted by all types of emergencies, from tsunamis to wildfires to chemical spills. The program also targets messaging only to residents who are impacted by a particular emergency, which avoids message fatigue, explained Zenner.
The notification system is available to all residents in the Alberni Valley and Bamfield areas. The ACRD also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Tseshaht First Nation and Hupacasath First Nation to allow residents who live on First Nation lands to register with the program. Huu-ay-aht First Nations and the Uchucklesaht Tribe are currently considering whether they will enter into an MOU with the ACRD.
Earlier in February, an earthquake in the South Pacific Ocean had some people in the Alberni Valley worried about a potential tsunami. While a tsunami threat did not end up happening, Zenner said it led to 200 people signing up for Voyent Alert just overnight.
Residents can register for Voyent Alert! online at register.voyent-alert.com or by downloading the mobile app.