Agenda Index City of Vancouver


TO: Vancouver City Council

FROM: Director of Risk and Emergency Management.

SUBJECT: Summary Report: Companion Reports on Emergency Preparedness



In 1990 Council identified Emergency Preparedness as one of the City's seven corporate priorities and supported the continuation of an expanded work program in this area. Over the past ten years Council has demonstrated a high level of commitment to emergency preparedness.


The purpose of this report is to provide a brief summary of four companion reports which are before Council today:

· Emergency Management Priorities;
· Seismic Hazard Abatement for Privately Owned Building;
· Seismic Assessment of City Buildings for Use as Emergency Shelters; and
· Joint Emergency Liaison Committee Annual Report.


Experts agree that the City is overdue for a large earthquake. There is much that can be done to minimize the potentially devastating effects of an earthquake. Staff have identified a number of initiatives in four companion reports:

1. Seismic Hazard Abatement Program for Privately Owned Buildings: The City has adopted seismic requirements in the Building Code. However buildings built before current code requirements are not required to meet these requirements, except if triggered by major renovation, addition or change of use. As a result, a significant portion of the building stock in the City is seismically vulnerable. It is recommended that over the next eighteen months a program be developed to minimize the seismic risks associated with buildings throughout the City. Staff would consult with stakeholders such as building owners, designers, and tenants, report back to Council with options and implications around the objectives, timing, costs, and scope of a proposed program. This would be done in conjunction with changes to the seismic requirements in the Vancouver Building By-Law, which are currently under review. It is recommended that the structural review program be continued to promote seismic compliance in new buildings, with a budget allocation of $50,000, funded from existing permit revenues currently allocated to the program. It is recommended that a senior seismic specialist be retained to develop the seismic hazard abatement program, at an annual cost of $92,000, funded from existing permit revenues currently allocated to the structural review program.

2. Emergency Management Priorities: Over the past ten years Council has approved initiatives like the dedicated fire protection system, high speed fire boats, post-disaster emergency operations centre, lifeline bridge upgrading, post disaster radio and dispatch system for emergency services, and the Urban Search and Rescue Team. The following, in conjunction with the seismic hazard abatement program for buildings, are recommended priorities for emergency planning over the next decade:

· Improved Sheltering Capability: In the event of a major earthquake, the Park Board through its volunteer-based Emergency Social Services Program will coordinate food, shelter, first aid and other services to victims. Community Centres have been provisionally identified as shelter or muster locations for this purpose, with schools augmenting them if necessary. It is recommended that some basic supplies be pre-positioned at specified community centres, or other civic facilities, so that immediate needs can be addressed until provincial or federal aid becomes available. The supplies would include first aid supplies, cots, flashlights, tools etc. It is recommended that the City target five supply locations each year at an annual cost of $175,000.

· Community Programs: It is recommended that a comprehensive public information/neighbourhood program be implemented to assist individuals, families, businesses, and communities to become better prepared. This program will provide information and training in a variety of formats, languages, and locations. It will include the continuation of the annual safety fair to promote preparedness. The annual cost of this program will be $55 - 75,000.

· Emergency Supplies and Minor Earthquake-Proofing in City Facilities: This initiative addresses the needs of staff who may be in City facilities, at City work sites, or in City vehicles at the time of an earthquake. It is recommended that all work sites have access to basic emergency supplies (food, water, first aid kit, flashlight etc.) to support them. It is recommended that non-structural items such bookcases, light fixtures, and computers in City facilities be secured, as these can block exits and cause injuries in even a minor earthquake. The annual cost of this ten-year initiative would be about $75,000.

· Partners in Preparedness: This program will recognize public and private sponsors and partners which help defray costs and improve services associated with emergency initiatives. The annual cost is $5000.

3. Seismic Assessment of City Buildings for Use as Emergency Shelters: It is recommended that consultants be retained to assess selected community centres and other civic facilities to identify upgrade needs associated with their use as emergency shelters. In conjunction with this review, it is recommended that City Hall precinct buildings be reviewed for by-law compliance. The cost of these assessments will be $76,300, source of funds to be the 1997-1999 Capital Plan.

4. Joint Emergency Liaison Committee Annual Report: The City was instrumental in the formation of the Joint Emergency Liaison Committee (JELC) to coordinate emergency planning across GVRD municipalities and between municipalities and the Province. The Committee is co-chaired by the City Manager. The Annual Report of the JELC outlines work with respect to a number of region-wide emergency preparedness initiatives. It is recommended that Council direct relevant City Departments (Police, Fire, Engineering, Permits & Licenses) to review the JELC recommendations and report back to Council with recommended implementation plans.


These recommendations represent priorities which will continue to advance the City's emergency planning and preparedness.

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