POLITICS

New anti-disaster agency to be established in Regina

06/18/2012 09:01 EDT | Updated 08/18/2012 05:12 EDT

The federal government is creating a new security and safety agency, to be based in Regina, that will co-ordinate responses to disasters and emergencies.

The Canadian Safety and Security Program will be based in the Saskatchewan capital, the government first announced in a news release Sunday.

The agency will focus on planning for natural disasters, pandemics and even terrorist attacks, said Marc Fortin, the assistant deputy defence minister responsible for science and technology.

"Regina is the natural place in the country for this investment," Fortin told CBC News on Monday.

"Regina has many assets — number one, of course, [is] the RCMP depot, which is unique in the country."

The Regina centre, which will be located on the second floor of a new building on 11th Avenue near Broad Street, is scheduled to open in two weeks, employing 16 people.

Officials say the agency, which will cost $43.5 million a year to operate, will pull science and technology together with operations and intelligence to predict and prepare for everything from terror attacks to natural disasters and serious accidents.

The agency will work with Defence Research and Development Canada to improve the country's ability to detect chemical, biological, radiological and explosives threats.

It will also work on border and transportation security, emergency management, surveillance and intelligence, cybersecurity, interoperability and critical infrastructure.

Fortin said the agency's goal is "to create, at the end of the day, resilient communities … that can respond and recover quickly from disasters or threats."