Wednesday 17th of April 2024

Community Concerns: Halifax Area Residents Advocate for Escape Routes Five Months After Wildfires

"Communities in Crisis: Halifax Residents Advocate for Emergency Exit Solutions Months After Wildfires"

In the aftermath of last spring's devastating wildfires in Halifax, residents like Antoniella Assalone, living on the outskirts in the Indigo Shores subdivision, are expressing growing concerns about the lack of safe escape routes in the event of another wildfire. Recalling the panic and acrid smoke that forced her and thousands of others to evacuate on May 28, Assalone is pushing for proactive measures before the upcoming spring and summer seasons.

The city faces a dilemma, with houses bordering combustible forests and often relying on just one road for evacuation, a situation that could lead to traffic jams and heightened panic during emergencies. Assalone, standing near an empty lot close to her residence, advocates for a second exit, suggesting that an old landfill near her property could serve as a viable option.

"We pay enough taxes; give us a second exit. All we need is gravel. Just fix the road," she stressed, highlighting the urgency of the situation. Indigo Shores is just one of ten Halifax communities lacking a secondary egress, as per Erica Fleck, Halifax's director of emergency management.

While the city's media relations department and Fleck declined interviews, citing ongoing work to provide council with reports on potential exits, citizens like Amanda Lutz, who lost her home during the fires, are seeking lasting solutions and clearer information. Lutz emphasizes the need for a comprehensive plan that includes safer evacuation routes, expressing concerns about the risks posed by the narrow emergency exit added to her neighbourhood in June.

As the community awaits action and answers, Halifax residents affected by the wildfires are pushing for tangible, timely solutions to ensure their safety in the face of future emergencies.

"Residents Demand Action: Halifax Calls for Rear Exits and Emergency Connector Roads Months After Wildfires"

As Halifax residents, including those like 33-year-old lawyer Amanda Lutz, witness the slow rebuilding process after last spring's wildfires, their concerns intensify, demanding tangible solutions for future safety. Lutz emphasizes the urgent need for rear exits in her community, advocating for connected routes along the back to ensure alternative evacuation paths.

"We need rear exits (from the community)," she stressed, standing amidst the reconstruction of her home. Lutz also raises a critical question: "When are (governments) going to get this done?" The absence of a clear timeline adds to the frustration of residents grappling with the aftermath of the fires.

Pam Lovelace, the councillor for the affected district, describes the communities, including Indigo Shores, as "balloon" communities designed by developers with a single road in and out. A 2017 Department of Natural Resources study underscores the high or extreme wildfire risk in Lovelace's district, emphasizing the urgent need for change.

Lovelace points to a digital map, identifying disconnected neighborhoods that fell victim to the fires, underscoring the necessity of a "community connector" road for additional evacuation routes. Acknowledging challenges, including acquiring private lands at a reasonable price, Lovelace advocates for a prioritized approach, ensuring that communities most urgently in need are addressed first.

A motion initiated by Lovelace and Coun. Waye Mason in August seeks a prioritized list of communities requiring emergency exits, alongside requests for the province to utilize Crown lands. Despite ongoing work on these reports, completion is expected by the spring of 2024.

Lovelace takes a firm stance, stating that communities like Indigo Shores should not expand without the implementation of emergency exit routes. However, the developer, Armco Capital Inc., claims to have received no formal request from the city regarding an additional exit.

In response, Tory Rushton, the provincial minister of Natural Resources, expresses openness to applications for the use of Crown lands for connector roads and emergency exits, provided proposals come from the municipalities. As the community awaits decisive action, the call for comprehensive and timely measures to address safety concerns echoes throughout Halifax.

"Indigo Shores Resident Urges Action: Antoniella Assalone Calls for Tangible Solutions to Emergency Exit Dilemma"

As Antoniella Assalone surveys the unsold lot a few hundred meters from her residence in the Indigo Shores Subdivision, her plea for action resounds. Standing near the vacant land on November 8, 2023, Assalone hopes that the ongoing discussions will transform into concrete measures soon.

"Get it done," she emphatically states, gesturing towards the empty expanse where she envisions a potential escape route. Assalone advocates for moving beyond dialogue, urging decision-makers to "talk it out, split the difference, and get it done." Her call for swift action reflects the growing urgency among residents seeking tangible solutions to the critical issue of emergency exits.

This report by The Canadian Press, first published on November 13, 2023, encapsulates Assalone's impassioned plea and the collective hope within the community for proactive steps to address their safety concerns.

In conclusion, Antoniella Assalone's call for action stands as a poignant plea for tangible solutions to the pressing issue of emergency exits in the Indigo Shores Subdivision. As she gestures towards the unsold lot where an envisioned escape route could be established, Assalone urges decision-makers to move beyond discussions and swiftly implement measures to address the community's safety concerns.

Published on November 13, 2023, by The Canadian Press, this report captures the urgency and collective hope within the community. Assalone's impassioned plea serves as a reminder that the time for action is now. The residents of Indigo Shores, along with others affected by the wildfires, anxiously await concrete steps to ensure their safety in the face of future emergencies.