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Kensington Emergency Shelter ready if needed

P.E.I. Public Safety Minister Bloyce Thompson, centre, cuts the ribbon to commission the Kensington Emergency Centre at the Murray Christian Centre on School Street on Saturday morning. Jim Blanchard, left, and Kensington Mayor Rowan Caseley hold the ribbon. Blanchard is the chairman of the official board of the Kensington United Church, which owns the building known as the Murray Christian Centre.
P.E.I. Public Safety Minister Bloyce Thompson, centre, cuts the ribbon to commission the Kensington Emergency Centre at the Murray Christian Centre on School Street on Saturday morning. Jim Blanchard, left, and Kensington Mayor Rowan Caseley hold the ribbon. Blanchard is the chairman of the official board of the Kensington United Church, which owns the building known as the Murray Christian Centre. - Jason Simmonds The Guardian
KENSINGTON, P.E.I. —

The Town of Kensington received a double dose of good news Saturday morning.

The town held an official dedication for an emergency shelter located at the Murray Christian Centre on School Street. During the announcement, P.E.I. Communities Minister Jamie Fox told the crowd the provincial government would also support the project.

Fox said one gap he’s noticed is how emergency centres are supported because of titles. The Murray Christian Centre does not qualify as an emergency shelter because it’s a church, said Kensington Mayor Rowan Caseley.

“I am pleased to say that we will have the conversations,” said Fox, who instructed staff about three months ago to review how emergency shelters across P.E.I. are funded. “I am willing to backdate funding for facilities, as they apply to emergency shelters in this province, back to this fiscal year of 2020, so back to the spring.

“We will be contacting your office directly," he said, looking directly at Caseley. "We will be asking for a submission from you and I will be prepared to look at that application and put some funding from the provincial government rural development agency into your centre going forward.”

Costs

To date, the Town of Kensington has assumed all of the shelter's costs, which Caseley said are between $50,000 and $60,000. It includes the retrofitting of a 45-kilowatt generator that will provide electrical power to the emergency shelter in case of an extended power outage.

Caseley said the town is currently in the process of working on its operating protocol, such as when to open the shelter and the procedures to be followed.

“We do hope and pray that this facility never needs to be used, but if the need arises we are ready,” said Caseley. “I understand that a hurricane called Teddy is moving towards us and by Tuesday of (this) week could make landfall in Atlantic Canada.

“If it does make landfall on Prince Edward Island, we do hope it does not create an environment where we need to open this facility, but if it does, we will be ready.”

P.E.I. Public Safety Minister General Bloyce Thompson said the provincial government will hold a news conference Monday at 11 a.m. to inform Prince Edward Islanders on preparedness for Teddy’s possible arrival. He emphasized P.E.I is well prepared for Teddy.

“I really appreciate the Town of Kensington for taking this initiative to be ready, to be prepared,” said Thompson. “We can be as prepared as we want, but we never know what is going to happen.”

Host facility

The Murray Christian Centre is owned by the Kensington United Church. Jim Blanchard, chairman of the church’s official board, said it was not a very long discussion when it came time to partner with the town.

Blanchard described housing the emergency shelter as part of the church’s outreach program.

“We are in a very small community so opportunities for outreach are not really high, but it’s something, as I say, that was close to the people of the congregation of the Kensington United Church for a number of years,” said Blanchard. “We are really happy to see it’s going to be available in a very organized fashion."

Jim Blanchard, chair of the official board of the Kensington United Church, speaks during the official dedication of the Kensington Emergency Shelter on Saturday morning. The shelter is located at the Murray Christian Centre on School Street. The Kensington United Church owns the building known as the Murray Christian Centre. - Jason Simmonds
Jim Blanchard, chair of the official board of the Kensington United Church, speaks during the official dedication of the Kensington Emergency Shelter on Saturday morning. The shelter is located at the Murray Christian Centre on School Street. The Kensington United Church owns the building known as the Murray Christian Centre. - Jason Simmonds

The provinces issued news releases on Sunday regarding hurricane Teddy and provided the following tips for residents:

  • making a household emergency plan to help everyone know what to do in case of emergency;
  • updating your preparedness kits, including extra food, pet supplies, water, masks and hand sanitizer for five days;
  • bringing in or tying down furniture, play equipment, barbeques or anything that can become projectiles in high winds;
  • ensuring adequate fuel supplies;
  • replacing batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms; and 
  • keeping up with the latest information from reliable sources.

This will not be the first time the facility has been used in emergencies. Blanchard recalled several years ago when congregation member Jamie MacKay requested to open the centre to families and individuals affected by a fire at the nearby Clermont Motel in February 2015.

Last year, the facility was again used following post-tropical storm Dorian.

"After Dorian last year, Jamie and a couple of his friends gathered together a few generators and that enabled people to come here and charge their phones and get a hot cup of coffee or whatever," said Blanchard, who added the need for this kind of facility during, or following, emergencies has been on the minds of several people in recent years.

“Our official board and ministers over time were always prepared to enable this facility to be used for that purpose,” said Blanchard.

Jason.simmonds@journalpioneer.com

Twitter.com/JpsportsJason

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