nothing to see here

It’s Emergency Preparedness Week which means here in Aurora it’s time to go on my annual search for a revised edition of the Town’s Crisis Communications Plan.

A fruitless quest that I’ve posted on in 2015 and 2014.

Why bother?

Well, even as of today I have been unable to obtain confirmation via the town’s twitter feed that Aurora isn’t still operating from a 1999 Crisis Communications Plan.

Yes that’s 1999, not 2009.

Not that either would be acceptable.

Nor is the fact that the plan was not updated when the town’s Emergency Response Plan (by-lay 5395-12) was updated in 2012.

It is promising that the Crisis Communications Plan finally made it as far as a 2016 to-do list for this year:


But we’re now 128 days into 2017 and council will have seen yet one more Emergency Preparedness Week come and go with no update to its crisis communications plan since the population of the Earth was only 6 billion.

The test of any emergency broadcast system is not multiple choice, but trying to get a straight answer over the town’s new and improved 2-way communication approach to social media certainly is.

At some point, the town removed their Crisis Communications Plan from their website and it took over 4 hours to find out that the document was removed due to privacy concerns and was no longer considered a “public document.

Even though the name of the document that had been available until recently had “PublicCopy” as part of its file name:

A 4 hour response time.

Had this been a real emergency, well we have no idea what path communications would take as it now likely takes an F.O.I. request to find that out.

In his May 2013 piece in the Canadian Government Executive Jeff Chatterton tackles the binder effect that plagues crisis communications plans:

Let’s be honest here: most binders sit on a shelf. One person or a small team puts it together, senior management gives it a glance, it’s approved, and everyone goes home feeling proud. Then it’s ignored for months.

This makes the binder not just useless – it makes it dangerous. The only thing worse than not being prepared for an emergency is thinking you are.

Chatterton breaks down how a Crisis Communications Plan can be useless in 4 parts:

  • The binder is a placebo
  • The binder isn’t always there
  • You didn’t write the binder
  • The binder isn’t comprehensive

In 2017 how do residents determine if the Town’s Crisis Communications Plan doesn’t suffer from any or all of these issues if we’re not even allowed to read it?

We don’t.

Instead, the “exceptional quality of life” that is afforded to us plays out like this famous scene from Star Wars:

* Update

Through a futile inquiry on twitter, I was able to get an answer by the town’s CAO that the current communication plan the town is operating from is from 2006, not 1999.

That is all, nothing to see here but an “Exceptional” Quality of Life.



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