‘Y2K’ committee splits into sub-groups

The town’s Year 2000 Community Preparedness Committee has established its own subcommittees, Administration and Finance manager Darryl Allan told council Monday night.
Since his last report in January, Allan said the “Y2K” group has held two meetings where there has been “free and frank” discussions as to what may happen at midnight on Dec. 31.
“This committee established four subcommittees to look at utilities, emergency services, health care, and communication and transportation,” Allan noted.
“Each of these committees will be doing risk analysis for their area of concern,” he added. “They will be assessing the risk for disruption of services and the consequence on those services for two, five and 10-day time frames.
“Based upon their assessments, the whole committee will then begin to put together contingency plans based on the identified risks for these time frames,” Allan explained.
The town is continuing to receive “Y2K” compliance statements from its suppliers for things like the traffic system and water treatment facility, Allan noted. With regards to the town’s PCs (computers), testing has been following a consistent pattern.
“They fail the automatic rollover to the year 2000 but pass the manual reset test,” he said. “This means that while the rest of the world is watching the Rose Bowl parade . . . I will be resetting computers.”
But the committee’s “single most controversial issue” revolves around a secure power supply. Allan said indications from Ontario Hydro and the Public Utilities Commission here remain very positive but he didn’t expect either to give an iron-clad guarantee of there being no disruption.
“Electrical power is the only commodity that we use that is produced at the same instant that it is consumed,” Allan noted. “You will not get a guarantee that the lights will be on 10 minutes from now, let alone 10 months.
“Even if you did get an iron-clad guarantee, people wouldn’t believe it anyway,” he reasoned.
Right now, the utilities subcommittee and the local mill are assessing the requirements for using the hydro-generating capacity of the dam for an emergency power supply.
“There are a number of logistic concerns which would need to be overcome to make a workable connection,” Allan said.
“The dam does not generate sufficient power to safely maintain the mill and supply the entire town, and so a protocol for power distribution within the town will also have to be developed,” he stressed.
Use of the mill’s co-gen station seems to be out since it depends on supply of natural gas to make power, Allan said.
Coun. Bill Martin noted the co-gen station used to be able to use fuel oil as well to generate electricity. Allan said he didn’t know but would instruct the subcommittee to look into it.
Council also approved a request for Allan to attend a “Y2K” workshop March 2 in Thunder Bay called “Be prepared, not scared.” Allan pointed out even without the “Y2K” bug, people in the area should have emergency plans anyway for such things as tornadoes, winter storms, forest fires, and even floods.
“We should all take reasonable precautions–extra batteries, candles, stocked food and water for several days, extra copies of records and documents,” he said.
“If each of us does that, we will be well on our way for being prepared for whatever the year 2000 tosses our way,” he added.