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WHISTLER, B.C. — The BC Hotel Association (BCHA), in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport and the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, has launched the Emergency Management Central Booking Portal. This solution addresses the urgent need for evacuation procedures in response to climate crises witnessed in recent years. The innovative system aims to expedite evacuees to safe shelter with increased speed and coordination.

“When an emergency happens, it’s critical people know where they can go for refuge and have the necessary support available to them,” says 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’re residents, visitors to our province or emergency personnel.”

The pilot reservation system is set to enhance coordination and booking efficiencies for Emergency Support Services (ESS) evacuee supports in B.C. for the year 2024. With a primary focus on supporting three key host communities — Kamloops, Kelowna, and Prince George — the system will onboard other community ESS teams as capacity warrants. The pilot will go live with the three host communities in June 2024.

“The Emergency Management Central Booking Portal provides Emergency Support Services (ESS) with a much-needed tool to ensure evacuees can find safe and secure accommodation during crises,” says Ingrid Jarrett, president and CEO of BCHA. “We’ve worked closely with accommodation providers, regional partners, and government to coordinate the implementation of the portal, and we’re so proud of the collective efforts that went in to make this happen.”

With a streamlined booking process, accessible province-wide for EMCR staff, ESS responders, and administrators, the reservation system ensures efficient coordination in times of crisis. Live availability information eliminates the need for manual calls to hotels, providing prompt updates on accommodations availability. The portal also enables simultaneous tracking of evacuee placements and inventory allocation in commercial lodging, facilitating efficient accounting and reconciliation.

“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,” says Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “This partnership with the BC Hotel Association introduces an innovative portal that provides real-time information on available lodging. 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.”

A referral voucher system is also set to be introduced to provide essential information and directions to evacuees, enhancing their overall experience. With electronic reservations and property-specific access, lodging suppliers benefit from streamlined processes, allowing staff to focus on other duties. The reservation system represents a significant advancement in emergency management in the province, ensuring prompt and effective support for evacuees during crises.  


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