Indie saying no indie

Brian Kayes and BEST continue their award winning ways

Brian Kayes BEST

Brian Kayes, Director of Risk and Emergency Management, City of Brandon, on site during the 2014 flood fight.

Well, there’s another one to put up on the wall. Awards for our outstanding emergency preparedness program are a regular happening for Brandon.

The latest tribute, the Manitoba Community Emergency Preparedness award, is annually presented communities “that have taken the steps to meet and exceed mandated emergency preparedness requirements.”

And, Brandon has done this big time.


Brandon’s Emergency Preparedness program’s strength is a result of its distinctive structure.

Brandon businesses and the City of Brandon contribute financially to Brandon Emergency Support Team (BEST).

The program has two  parts: emergency response and public preparedness information.

This is a new take on the universally more common model of single department jurisdiction (typically Fire or Police Services). With our program, emergency preparedness management is the responsibility of a broad-based group.

The achievements resulting from this innovative ‘made in Brandon’ partnership continually garner accolades from those both outside and inside the city.

Disaster Management Canada magazine said Brandon “is one of several communities internationally to have undertaken successful educational campaigns and forged public-private partnerships that have put resiliency on the community’s front burner.

Brandon has implemented a public education campaign that is now being used as a blueprint for other locales in Canada.”

The work of Director of Risk and Emergency Management, Brian Kayes  has been praised by, among others, the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness.

He was presented with the Canadian Emergency Management Award “for outstanding contributions to emergency management, which include developing a range of “innovative programs that continue to produce effective and sustainable results.”

When the Assiniboine River issued its ‘Amazing Highwater Challenge’, in 2011 and in 2014, the wisdom of BEST’s commitment to fostering community inclusiveness was demonstrated, Brian says, by the way that “everyone was ready, willing and able to work with us and help us manage these high water events.”

Each flood fight presented serious problems but thanks to Brian’s leadership and BEST’s outstanding teamwork, the city stayed dry.

Brandon City Manager Scott Hildebrand says the City of Brandon is extremely lucky to have Brian leading its risk and emergency management initiatives.

“The professionalism and leadership with which Brian helped guide the city through the flood responses is how he approaches every emergency preparedness issue – with calm and composure.

Brian received the Emergency Coordinator of the Year Award at the 2012 Disaster Management Conference in Winnipeg.

“Brandon’s success during the 2011 flood event can be credited to Brian Kayes,” said Winnipeg’s Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Randy Hull.

“Brian always looks for the positive in any issue and is driven by the passion to do what is right. There were many years of building a foundation of community capacity for both business and people.”

From the beginning, BEST set the bar high. “We wanted to provide ongoing public education using quality materials,” says Brian. “We were financially stable from the beginning because the companies’ commitment to providing ongoing support.”

When BEST decided to include a video as one of the Shelter-in-Place education pieces, they took their usual high calibre approach.

“We wrote the script and hired a company to produce it,” Brian says. “Word got out about it and we started getting requests for our video from around the world.”

BEST and City personnel work closely with public and private sectors and citizens on several annual exercises. ‘Exercise Leaving Home’ focused on the needs of people with disabilities when responding to an F3 tornado situation.

This proactive venture earned BEST the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police/Motorola Award for Emergency Response Exercise.

Brian and BEST continue to create exceptional programs – so stay tuned for updates.



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Today’s Throwback

 Ione Cigar Factory

Ione Cigar Factory
The cigar factory operated at 121 10th Street for over ten years.

The block was built in 1891 and originally served as the first home of the Bank of Montreal.

Source: Lawrence Stuckey collection (1-2002.3.1E6), S.J. McKee Archives, Brandon University

photo courtesy of Heritage Brandon


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S. Cohen Collection

Bernie Whetter

Bernie Whetter, owner, The Green Spot

• Always cut on a board of wood, bamboo or soft plastic to prevent premature dulling of your knives.

Acrylic, ceramic and similar hard surfaces are tough on a knife edge because they do not “give” with the edge.

• Handwash with dish soap and water. Hand dry knife blades from the back to the cutting edge.

• Hone regularly with a honing steel to maintain a keen edge.

• Keep knives sharp. A sharp knife is safer than a dull one because it requires less pressure when cutting. The knife will not slip as easily and your hand will not tire as quickly.

• Store in a knife block or an in-drawer knife tray. Carbon steel knives are best stored where air circulation is present.

• Carbon steel blades require regular care and maintenance.

Over time the blade may react with acidic foods (such as lemons or tomatoes), which will cause the steel to turn dark grey to black, this is called developing a patina.

To avoid discolouration of the blade, rinse and dry immediately after each use.


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