Eastern Ontario mayor suggests mandatory generators for grocery stores, gas stations

The mayor of Clarence-Rockland, Ont., east of Ottawa, says he’d like to see that essential businesses are built with generators, in case of another major power outage like the one caused on May 21.

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA on Tuesday, Mario Zanth said the derecho 11 days ago has him already thinking about the next natural disaster.

“We’ve had, just in Clarence-Rockland alone, three natural disasters and a pandemic in the last five years,” he said. “So, we know in the next five years, there’s going to be something coming up.”

One idea he said he had is ensuring that newly built gas stations and grocery stores have generators, something he says he plans to discuss with provincial officials.

“We have to be able to dig a little deeper to find out exactly how this can happen but it’s definitely something that I will be pushing for,” he said. “We need to be better prepared in the sense that citizens still need to have access to gasoline for their generators as well as food.”

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, gas stations were hit hard by demand. Those with power quickly ran dry, while those without were unable to pump. Food spoiled throughout the province in the days following the storm as power outages lingered.

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson said a similar idea would be presented to Ottawa city council next week.

“My colleague Keith Egli and I are going to work on a motion or a direction at the next council meeting that talks about do we have the authority or where do we have to get the authority to ensure that apartment buildings have enough power and a generator station, at minimum, that can power one elevator,” he said. “The second is… what authority do we have or where do we need to receive the authority to ensure that a gas station has power?”

Ottawa city council meets June 8.

Zanth says it’s imperative that municipalities prepare for the next big storm.

“We know this is not going to get any better. This is no longer a topic of conversation of whether this is real or not,” Zanth said. “Whether people believe in climate change or not, we’ve been getting hit by storms and natural disasters and we have to be better prepared and if that means getting the province to allow us to change that building code, then we will.”

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