Maps are up to date for emergency crews, district says
June 6, 2012
District of Muskoka staff is reassuring residents that the maps used by emergency services are current and up to date.
This newspaper approached the district about the status of its maps after residents expressed concern that Little Long Lake was incorrectly identified by a police press release in the aftermath of a drowning there on May 26. The name initially referenced in the incident — Rutter Lake — has not been the lake’s official name for a number of years.
District of Muskoka geomatics manager Graham Good said municipal staff update maps of roads every day and that emergency services receive updated versions of maps every three or six months.
“If there’s a change in the name of the road, it’s added nightly,” he said of the district’s mapping systems.
On top of listing official names of public roads, private roads and water bodies, the district’s maps also contain any defunct names, nicknames and other colloquial aliases they may have. The lake on which the May 26 drowning occurred, for instance, is listed as Little Long Lake on the district’s maps, but is also shown to have an alias of Rutter Lake.
Good said that locals in some cases will continue referring to a road or lake by its former name, even when the name has been officially changed.
“To the local people’s recollection, it’s something else,” he said.
On top of a list of roads and lakes, the maps also depict in intricate detail the location of every fire hydrant in the district and every dock where firefighters, police and paramedics can launch boats to access calls on lakes and islands. Evacuation areas for large-scale emergencies are also pinpointed, as are all buildings over 10 feet by 10 feet in size.
In the case of the May 26 drowning, Good said emergency crews had no problems finding the lake. He said that no trouble reports were created in the incident. A trouble report is generated if emergency crews get delayed in responding to a call.
But even with the most up-to-date mapping systems, Good reminds residents that they must also make sure their homes and boat launch areas are clearly marked. The district also reminds residents each winter to keep road signs clear of snow to help emergency crews navigate to a call.
“You can have the best map or GPS unit in the world, but if a sign isn’t out there, it’s hard to find,” said Good.
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