Lane Numbers to Speed 911 Calls

Hastings Sunrise laneways are about to become a lot easier to navigate as street numbers are posted on the back of buildings through the Vancouver Police Department’s initiative named Project Landmark.

Free metal plates with street address numbers will be delivered to some residents and business owners in the spring, complete with instructions on how to install.

According to Sergeant Lorna Berndsen, who is heading up the project, reporting and responding to emergencies in lanes can take longer when it is hard to identify the address. Project Landmark will help to reduce delays in responding when a 911 caller has to go to the front of a building to find an address. Emergency crews will be able to go straight to the scene, rather than first looking for the number out front. First responders requesting backup will also be able to identify their location quickly and accurately, making their jobs a little safer.

The Vancouver Police Foundation is funding production of the number plates following an audit of addresses needing better laneway identification carried out by volunteers from Hastings Sunrise Community Policing Centre (HSCPC). Plates will be delivered directly to residences and businesses by HSCPC volunteers. Businesses and residences not covered by the project can purchase number signs for less than $30 at hardware stores.

The project follows a similar pilot in parts of the Downtown Eastside and Strathcona, whose Strathcona CPC was a great help in launching it in Hastings Sunrise. Other cities including Calgary and Winnipeg have enacted by-laws requiring all properties to be numbered at both the front and back. The goal
of Project Landmark is to ensure all Vancouver premises have a rear address and for Vancouver City Council to consider a bylaw in the future.

At a time when major infrastructure projects can make access to the front of a building impossible, and in the context of a year when 86% of illicit drug toxicity deaths took place inside a building, easier address identification means faster responses times and potentially better outcomes.

As Sgt. Berndsen states: “We can’t help you if we can’t find you.”

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