In the event of an emergency or natural disaster, the Nanaimo region's cows, pigs, sheep and other livestock have a plan - almost.
Regional District of Nanaimo directors were expected to vote on a livestock emergency evacuation plan during their regular board meeting on Tuesday.
The province's Emergency Program Act bestows the power of livestock management upon local governments when a state of emergency is declared.
If approved, the plan could see several possible amenities earmarked as potential shelter locations for the region's hooved citizens.
The most likely scenario to require a speedy evacuation of livestock from the zone of a disaster is a wildfire, according to emergency co-ordinator Jani Drew.
"Fire happens to be the top hazard in electoral areas and not all of the time, but sometimes, wildfire can be a very fast moving event," said Drew. "We need to figure out how we can move animals quickly."
While a convoy of farm animals being escorted to safety under military guard will not be a sight made likely by this plan, the effort could involve members of the agricultural community pitching in to help transport threatened livestock to shelters.
The proposed plan included a list of potential shelter locations in the north and south ends of the Nanaimo region, which directors were expected to vote on as part of the report.
The preliminary list included the Vancouver Island Exhibition Grounds on Bowen Road, the Coombs Rodeo Grounds, Coombs Fairgrounds and Arbutus Meadows Equestrian Centre. Farmers themselves could potentially be called upon to provide secure pasture locations.
According to Drew, the expectation was to provide shelter for the animals for a period of about four days.
She added that the varied responsibilities held by different agencies, including the province's Ministry of Agriculture, could complicate a speedy response.
"It's not something you can easily implement unless you planned ahead and so much can go wrong," she said. "If you think about trying to move quickly, in addition to managing an evacuation for people, it's kind of mind boggling."
Nanoose Bay's Colin Springford, whose farm includes more than 100 head of cattle, welcomed the initiative.
While he said he was confident about being able to move his herd to a safe location on his own if necessary, he acknowledged that doing so quickly would be a challenge.
"It would be nice to know there's some public help when an emergency should arise," said Springford.
Should the plan be approved by the RDN, signatures will be sought for the various agreements it proposes and a draft will be forwarded to the agricultural committee.
Training exercises will also be needed to ensure the plan is operational, an objective that has been set for next year.
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