Oak Bay Fire Chief and emergency services co-ordinator Dave Cockle and Mayor Nils Jensen check out the new generator installed recently behind municipal hall. The generator

Power backup leaves Oak Bay in good hands

New generator gives municipality insurance for disaster

A large metal container sits just outside the rear door of Oak Bay municipal hall.

For those familiar with backup power generators, the mystery of what’s inside is easily solved. But those who haven’t encountered such mechanical beasts may be further scratching their heads, once municipal staffers cover the box with a wrap resembling the bricks on the wall behind it.

The fact the district’s new reserve generator will blend into the background in no way diminishes its critical role in Oak Bay’s emergency preparedness.

“This is the last piece of the puzzle as far as power infrastructure goes,” said fire chief and emergency program co-ordinator Dave Cockle. The fire hall and police station have had backup generators for years, he said, while public works has a portable unit available.

The new 80-kilovolt generator, powered by a three-cylinder John Deere diesel engine, will keep systems running at the hall for three days in the event disaster strikes and severs connection to the power grid.

Given that Oak Bay has shifted its emergency control centre from the fire hall to the municipal hall, this piece of insurance could make the difference in getting support where it is needed, and quickly.

“This is a vital component of our infrastructure that we now have to deal with a major disaster,” said Mayor Nils Jensen. “In any disaster, it’s critical that we can connect with emergency services and also with the volunteers working out in the field.”

The installation of the generator coincides with the upgrading of the hall’s rooftop communication antennas and the amateur radio operations hub in the council chambers.

“We can reach out further now than we ever could before,” Cockle said. “As the technology improves, our ability to communicate does as well.”

A crew of 14 volunteer operators meet in the hall every Wednesday night to test the communications system and ensure channels to other radio operators around the region and beyond are kept open.

Of course, the generator isn’t only designated for times of serious disaster. It is programmed to monitor spikes in power flow to the building, say, in a major storm, and kick in quickly during localized outages.

“Twice in the past 14 months Oak Bay has had power outages lasting nine or 10 hours,” Cockle said.

The $92,000 cost of the generator and its installation by Victoria’s Emery Electric came from reserve funding the district began setting aside nearly five years ago.

The radio improvements cost about $12,000, but the cost of the new cabinet containing the radios, which hide away nicely at the back of the council chambers, was covered with a donation from the Davis family. The late Jim Davis was an avid radio operator.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Families, spectators wave goodbye to Navy Task Force from Victoria shorelines

HCMS Winnipeg and HCMS Regina sailing to Hawaiian training exercise, further deployments

COVID-inspired RV sales soaring on West Shore and beyond

Health restrictions, recommendations keep Vancouver Island vacationers closer to home

UPDATE: Pedestrian injured in collision on Hillside Avenue

Traffic impacted between Douglas and Blanshard streets

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

Cowichan RCMP use spike belts to end car chase — man in custody

The driver was arrested at the scene a short distance from his vehicle

COVID-19 tests come back negative for remote First Nation

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

Most Read