Questions still linger in a Nova Scotia neighbourhood ravaged by a wildfire nearly two months ago.
That was evident Thursday evening at a community meeting in Hammonds Plains that was organized to help connect residents with the agencies responsible for recovery.
More than 16,000 were evacuated from their homes in late May and early June when the fire broke out in the Tantallon and Hammonds Plains areas of Halifax Regional Municipality. The destructive blaze destroyed 150 houses.
Speakers representing the impacted communities shared their thoughts, and called for better emergency planning, efficient communication and environmental monitoring.
Martin Kenward, representing a newly formed coalition of residents, said exit points for new communities are especially important.
“They put a patchwork in for Haliburton Hills. There’s an egress point there now and there’s one for Highland Park, but it isn’t enough,” said Kenward.
“We need real egress, which takes us to other places other than Hammonds Plains Road.”
Those who were invited to speak at the event also voiced concerns about the slow flow of information during and after the fires.
“The conversation has to start somewhere with the people and the officials. So that’s what tonight was all about, was to get the conversation started,” said Denys Prevost, a resident of the Perry Pond community of Hammonds Plains.
Meanwhile, officials from the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables (DNRR), Halifax fire and the RCMP spoke to the crowd about what happened when the flames broke out on May 28.
They say many lessons were learned and vowed to do better.
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“It’s important that we learn. We didn’t do everything right. We certainly didn’t,” said Halifax District RCMP Chief Supt. Jeffrey Christie.
“But I tell you I’m amazingly proud of the effort put in by all categories of employees by the RCMP and the volunteers of GSAR (ground search and rescue) because they did so many things right.”
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RCMP say the investigation into the fire is ongoing and being led by DNRR.
In addition, the municipality is working on an after-action report with all levels of government.
“To look at the responses, processes, what worked and what didn’t work well,” said Bill Moore, the community safety executive director for HRM.
He told the crowd the report and its findings will be made public.
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