Building up a tried and true style of communication: NERP’s neighbourhood kiosks

This pandemic has changed our world and our island––physical distancing, frequent handwashing and the appearance of face masks––but imagine other emergencies in our future. Imagine a large earthquake: homes and trees toppled, power and internet down, roads in ruin and connection to the mainland severed. Imagine a forest fire raging out of control or a chemical spill endangering us all.

Bowen’s Neighbourhood Emergency Response Program (NERP) is working to prepare us for these very real possibilities. And the Bowen Island Community Foundation has just given NERP a Resiliency Fund grant of $15,000 to build a series of kiosks in Bowen neighbourhoods.

NERP plans to build up to 10 kiosks across the island at a cost of about $1,500 each. Likely locations are: Bowen Bay Beach, Bluewater, Hikers Trail, Deep Bay, Tunstall Bay, Miller’s Landing, Eaglecliff, Cowan Point, Cates Hill, and Queen Charlotte Heights. The first of these will be built in Upper Oceanview, off Miller Road.

The kiosks will contain information to help islanders prepare for and build resilience against the next island-wide emergency. “The kiosks will be supplied with up-to-date information from municipal, regional and provincial emergency planners and maintained — both the content and the physical space – by community volunteers,” said the grant proposal.

The goal of the kiosks is to increase community safety, particularly for those who are vulnerable, and to enable islanders to respond more speedily and effectively in order to recover from an emergency.

During the initial construction phase, the kiosks will have a relatively simple structure – two posts, a roof and a notice board. The specifics are fairly straightforward – cement footings and hardware for posts, treated wood for the uprights, roof support and a signboard, an easily visible paint/stain for weather protection and metal roofing and hardware. The goal, however, is to expand the possibilities — to provide space for additions to each kiosk: a bench for sitting, a storage area for first-aid supplies, an AED for the possibility of cardiac arrest, a solar panel and USB for charging phones and tablets.

It’s important to note that NERP, a volunteer organization, is looking for assistance with this project: donations of materials or labour with construction and painting, and possible savings through bulk purchases and mass production. The organization could also use help with advertising, with social media, bookkeeping, and the organization of displays. If you have time, energy or resources to contribute to this project please contact Bowen’s NERP co-ordinator, Edward Wachtman, at [email protected] or Judi Gedye at [email protected].