Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Vancouver City Council


Manager, Facilities Development


Seismic Assessment of City Buildings for Use as Emergency Shelters - Appointment of Consultant





· Consultant contracts over $30,000 require the approval of Council.
· Contracts are to be awarded on the basis of best value for fee.


The purpose of this report is to request Council's approval to award the contract for consulting services for the seismic assessment of approximately 26 buildings for use as Emergency Centres to Sandwell Engineering Inc.


In 1991, a "walk-through" seismic evaluation of 75 city-owned buildings was conducted by the engineering firm of Choukalos, Woodburn, McKenzie and Maranda Ltd. It identified major structural and non-structural deficiencies in these facilities.

In 1996 the Board of Parks and Recreation (GS Sayers Engineering and Gage Babcock and Associates) conducted full building by-law review of 14 of the 23 community centres. Nine (9) centres are relatively new and were not reviewed. The study concluded that nine (9) centres require seismic or other life safety upgrades; twelve (12) are at near current code for seismic resistance or life safety, and two (2) are slated for upgrade in this Capital Plan.

In the 1994-1996 Capital Plan, highest priority was given to firehalls (post-disaster buildings) with $450,000 allocated for partial upgrading. Measures which offered maximum benefit and minimum disruption were undertaken eg. hardening vehicle and entry doors. Fire and Rescue Services further added back-up and UPS power in the firehalls.

In 1998, the City constructed an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) as part of an Emergency Operations and Communications Centre (E-Comm). This Centre, located at Hastings and Cassiar, is a 20,000 SF post-disaster facility. It will be the hub for Vancouver's emergency response in a major emergency. The Vancouver Central Library, located at 350 West Georgia Street, has been selected as the backup site for City Hall in the event that City Hall becomes inoperative in a major earthquake.

In the event of a major disaster, it is anticipated that some public and private buildings, specifically residential buildings, may suffer major damage or become inaccessible for a variety of reasons, requiring other "post-disaster" facilities to be made available for use as temporary emergency centres.

Recent disasters in California and Japan have confirmed the need for cities to identify, designate and suitably equip large open facilities, in a strategic grid to facilitate evacuation of its citizens during the recovery period after a disaster.

In a companion report titled Emergency Management Priorities, the Director of Risk Management has outlined the requirements for such shelters.

The 1997-1999 Capital Plan included $150,000 for a study to assess existing facilities as emergency centres, to develop a phased upgrading program for same, and to undertake a building by-law review of City Hall Precinct. The work was held pending the completion of the E-Comm building since connections to the EOC are important.


It is in the above context that proposals were sought from a limited group of specialistconsultants to conduct (a) an assessment (seismic and amenities) of a select list of its community centres and other civic facilities which have been identified for use as emergency centres in the event of an emergency; (b) a building by-law review of the City Hall Precinct (Main Building, East Wing and 10th Avenue Annex) as a prerequisite to finalizing plans for a backup City Hall.

Proposals were invited from six firms specializing in seismic reviews and by-law assessments of buildings. Five proposals were received with the sixth firm choosing to joint-venture with two of the other firms as follows:

Based on interviews and proposal submissions it is recommended that Sandwell Engineering Inc. be appointed to provide consulting engineering services for the seismic assessment of City buildings for use as emergency shelters. In a concurrent study, The Iredale Partnership will undertake a building by-law review of City Hall Precinct.

Funding for these contracts is available in the 1997-1999 Capital Plan. The Federal Government, in conjunction with the Insurance Bureau of Canada is reported to be establishing a grant program for hazard abatement projects in various areas of Canada. These studies will be used to leverage funding from said programs to fund future abatement projects.

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