Calling for 911 in Chatham-Kent is expected to become easier and more modern.

Chatham-Kent is moving towards upgrading to a ‘next-generation’ 911 system, one that makes sending life-saving help to those in need faster and easier.

A presentation about next-generation 911 was made to council at their online meeting held on Monday night.

Bringing in the new 911 system comes with a high cost. It will cost Chatham-Kent over $2 million in initial capital costs, and an estimated $430,000 in operating costs over the next three years.

The CRTC mandated that 911 call centres be upgraded to next-generation systems, including the ability to send real-time text messages to 911, as well as images and videos. The new system would make it easier for crews to locate the caller and lead to more informed emergency responses.

“I’m a little bit flabbergasted by the cost,” said Councillor Melissa Harrigan, noting that the upcoming budget will have staggering costs. Harrigan said it’s frustrating when regulations change and municipalities have to respond and it’s ultimately a burden for local taxpayers.

“I think it’s an extraordinary amount of money for a small municipality,” said Councillor Anthony Ceccacci, noting the financial challenges facing Chatham-Kent, while asking questions about the scope and size of the project.

Chatham-Kent CFO Gord Quinton said it’s a major change for 911 and admits it’s a large amount of funds for the municipality to pay. He said for cost-savings he would ask council how comfortable they would be with 911 operators working outside the borders of Chatham-Kent or even the province.