please stand by

When attending the town budget meeting of Monday January 13th there was a remark shared by the town’s CAO and Mayor regarding the use of a radio station to communicate the town’s delay with garbage collection following the ice storm.

The radio station in question was not mentioned directly but after some inquiry I understand it was an almost unheard of FM station at 88.5 called "The Jewel"
http://www.jewelradio.com/new/885/

WTF?

Who in their right mind would advise wasting time communicating to residents news updates on this channel, or any FM channel for that matter?

How out of touch with reality is the Town of Aurora’s communication department?

Back in May of 2009 the Town of Newmarket partnered with 680News as the Town’s official radio partner to ensure that Newmarket residents are well informed in the case of an emergency.

This Press Release is posted on their easy to navigate website here:
http://www.newmarket.ca/en/townhall/townofnewmarketpartnerswith680newsincaseofemergencies.asp

That was 4.5 years ago!

You can’t tell me that communications staff, especially those that came to us from the York Regional offices were ignorant of what other municipalities in the region are doing, especially one of our closest neighbors that we share emergency services with.

Thankfully the ice storm we experienced in Aurora didn’t develop into a crisis because I can’t begin to conceive how the town is in any position to communicate with residents if the need arises.

That’s not to say there isn’t a "crisis communication plan" because there is, you can find it on the town’s website here:
http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/app/wa/mediaEntry?mediaEntryId=45840

What is of concern is that this plan is incredibly dated, including mention of staff and elected officials from over two terms ago. The media list under section 9.4.2 Media Contacts is also laughably dated.

Primary radio station contacts are shown to be:

99.1 FM CBC Radio One
88.5 FM FOXY
1010 AM CFRB

Given the town’s Emergency Response Plan (by-lay 5395-12) was updated in 2012 (found here: http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/app/wa/mediaEntry?mediaEntryId=62208 ) it is curious why this document, which has the contact details of a Communications Manger twice removed from the current one, was not updated in concert.

In the town’s Operating Budget "Communications" is already costing us close to $600,000 a year

If it is going to be handled in such a blase manner what else could it cost us?

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2 thoughts on “please stand by

  1. Interesting to note, nobody thought to consult the school board’s bus cancellation radio notice list.

    For years, parents and students have been told notices will be available on a list of radio stations (which I found here: http://www.schoolbuscity.com/2012_Bus_Cancellation_notice.pdf) to see if their school buses would be cancelled.

    Would these radio stations not be interested in putting out this information?

    Would the school boards not have a way to contact these radio stations to distribute the information?

    Perhaps a quick phone call over to the school bus management types at the York Region school boards to see how this is done might be in order.

    Federal and Provincial governments have always told us in an emergency to listen to radio reports for updated information, so those looking for information may be turning there.

    Seems kinda funny that Aurora needs to reinvent the wheel while the school boards, province and federal government have this distribution methods in hand.

  2. Shows you just how disconnected some people in the town office are from reality.

    Some other interesting tidbits I did not include in my original post.

    The town acknowledged it was unaware of Robo calls until Newmarket used them.

    The CAO also emphasized radio as a primary medium because with power outages not everyone has internet. Perhaps not everyone, but I would suspect given the large adoption rate of smart phones, and that Aurora is touted as a n “afluent” town that it’s likely that residents picked up their smart phone looking for updates. The great thing about smart phones is that they use this remarkable technology called a battery allowing them to work unplugged from the power grid.

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