Ministry of Justice, Government Operations Sector, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Region, Kootenay Rockies Region, Northern B.C. Region, Provincewide, Thompson / Okanagan Region, Vancouver Coast & Mountains Region, Vancouver Island / Coast Region

Earthquake consultation to improve public safety

/2014/03/earthquake-consultation-to-improve-public-safety.html
Government Operations Tuesday, March 11, 2014 9:30 AM


Please note: It was decided on March 12, 2014, that Henry Renteria would be the sole chair of the Earthquake Review Board.

VICTORIA - A consultation and public education campaign on all aspects of earthquake preparedness and response will improve British Columbia's ability to act in the face of a catastrophic seismic event.

The consultation will be co-chaired by John Les, former B.C. Solicitor General, and Henry Renteria, former director of California's Office of Emergency Services.

It will engage all levels of government as well as invite input and engagement from additional stakeholders, including individuals and families, the media, business, local authorities including First Nations, adjoining provincial, federal and state jurisdictions, as well as non-governmental organizations.

Stakeholder roundtable activities will focus on those regions at highest risk from seismic events. The final report is expected to be submitted to the Ministry of Justice by the end of the year.

In the coming months, the Province will also be launching a public education campaign aimed at getting more British Columbians who live in areas vulnerable to earthquakes to take action and prepare for a seismic event. In the process of developing this campaign, Emergency Management BC (EMBC) will look to work with partners in the field of emergency response and preparedness to gauge the current level of personal readiness among British Columbians, and the best way to raise awareness and educate citizens in the province so they can be better prepared in the event of a major earthquake or tsunami.

This review will build on the work currently underway by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) of British Columbia on catastrophic earthquake preparedness. Government will be receiving and taking action on recommendations from the OAG to improve its seismic preparedness at the same time the co-chairs pursue this review.

Quotes:

Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton -

"Emergency management is a responsibility we all share. This consultation is an opportunity to gather our partners and work together on preparedness and response and engage the public to make sure more British Columbians get prepared for when the 'big one' hits."

"Events such as the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami and 1964 Great Alaska earthquake were terrible tragedies. It is a reminder to all of us who live on the West Coast that we cannot be complacent when it comes to public safety."

John Les, review co-chair and former Solicitor General for British Columbia -

"Whether you are a first responder, a local government or a regular British Columbian, the job of emergency preparedness never ends. It is a field that is constantly evolving and so is our understanding of how to best manage our response and encourage the public to take action."

"Informed by disaster research in other countries, as well as our own experiences here at home, this consultation with key stakeholders - combined with a public education campaign - forms a responsible approach to help keep British Columbia homes and families safe during and after an earthquake."

Henry Renteria, review co-chair and former director of California Office of Emergency Services - 

"We know that effective emergency response requires a network of responders working together with resilient communities. This consultation will take a broader approach, looking at how all the partners work together and provide practical recommendations to strengthen that network for seismic events."

Quick Facts:

  • More information about the consultation on earthquake preparedness and public education campaign will be made available in the coming months.
  • The launch comes as British Columbians remember the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake as well as the 1964 Great Alaska earthquake and tsunami. The Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, was a tragedy that claimed approximately 16,000 lives and damaged more than 100,000 buildings. Centred near Anchorage, Alaska, the March 27, 1964, earthquake and tsunami caused heavy damage to communities along the west coast of Vancouver Island and northern Washington State.
  • Through EMBC, British Columbia is constantly refining and reviewing its emergency response plans.
  • Over the last two years, EMBC has undertaken a community consultation process for tsunami response that included hearing feedback from emergency managers and public officials, as well as training and education in more than 20 communities to ensure local authorities understand their roles and responsibilities around emergency planning and notification.
  • The largest recorded earthquake in Canada occurred in 1949 - an 8.1 magnitude earthquake off Haida Gwaii. The second-largest recorded earthquake to affect the west coast of British Columbia was in 2012 - a 7.8 magnitude earthquake west of Moresby Island, Haida Gwaii.
  • The Pacific Coast is one of the most earthquake-vulnerable regions of Canada. Although the numbers vary annually, more than 1,000 earthquakes rumble beneath the surface of British Columbia every year - more than three a day on average.

Learn More:

To see the EMBC's emergency plans, visit http://www.embc.gov.bc.ca/em/hazard_plans/hazard_plans.html

Learn about putting together an emergency plan and preparing an emergency kit, visit: www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/prevention-preparation.html

Learn more about B.C.'s earthquake activity:
www.earthquakescanada.nrcan.gc.ca/index-eng.php?tpl_region=west

Two backgrounders follow.

Media Contact:

Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice
250 213-3602

BACKGROUNDER 1

Terms of reference for the earthquake consultation

Purpose

The goal of this consultation is to provide recommendations, through discussion with key stakeholders, on improving the ability of British Columbians to prepare for and respond to a catastrophic seismic event.

Guiding Considerations

Guiding considerations in the development of recommendations will include:

  • Overall public safety impact
  • Affordability
  • Practicality (e.g., implementation requirements, ability of partners to participate, timelines, etc.)

Scope

This emergency management consultation regarding catastrophic seismic events will directly involve all levels of government.

The Province will also seek the input and engagement of additional stakeholders, including: individuals and families, the media, business, local authorities including First Nations, adjoining provincial, federal and state jurisdictions, as well as non-governmental organizations.

Community consultation activities will focus on those regions at highest risk from seismic events.

Key Topics within Scope

Roles and responsibilities of all levels of government to plan for and respond to catastrophic seismic events

  • To determine if the roles and responsibilities are clearly set out and understood by all levels of government, and if necessary, to recommend methods to improve clarity and understanding.

Roles of individuals and families

  • To gauge the preparedness of individuals and families for catastrophic events (e.g. family plans, earthquake kits, insurance, etc.) and recommend approaches to improving individual and family preparedness as required.

Risk assessment processes

  • To identify key issues and opportunities with respect to risk assessment processes, relevant to catastrophic seismic events, and provide recommendations for improvements as appropriate.

Response planning for catastrophic seismic events

  • To identify key issues and opportunities with respect to response plans, capacities, and processes, and provide recommendations for improvements as required.

Response capacity

  • To identify key issues and opportunities with respect to response capacity and provide recommendations for improvements as appropriate (e.g. targeted investments within British Columbia, mutual aid arrangements with other jurisdictions, etc.).

Mitigation strategies for catastrophic seismic events

  • To identify key issues and opportunities with respect to mitigation strategies and provide recommendations for improvements as appropriate.

Co-ordination structures

  • To identify key issues and opportunities with respect to existing coordination structures for response to catastrophic events and provide recommendations for improvements as appropriate.

Technical emergency communications and warning systems

  • To identify key issues and opportunities with respect to emergency management technical communications and warning systems and provide recommendations for improvements as appropriate.

Public communications

  • To identify key issues and opportunities with respect to public communications before, during, and after a catastrophic seismic event and provide recommendations for improvements as appropriate.

Training and exercising programs

  • To identify key issues and opportunities with respect to training and exercising for response to catastrophic events, and provide recommendations for improvements as appropriate.

Volunteers

  • To identify key issues and opportunities with respect to the utilization of volunteers in response to a catastrophic seismic event and provide recommendations for improvements as appropriate.

Media Contact:

Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice
250 213-3602

BACKGROUNDER 2

Biographies of earthquake review co-chairs

John Les, former Solicitor General for British Columbia

John Les was first elected to represent the riding of Chilliwack-Sumas in 2001 and re-elected in 2005 and 2009. Former Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, and Parliamentary Secretary for HST information to the Minister of Finance, Les also has served as Solicitor General, leading provincial emergency response through significant emergency events, and as Minister of Small Business and Economic Development.

He has served the provincial government in many capacities including serving as Government Caucus Chair; chairing the Legislative Special Committee on the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform; serving on the Government Caucus Committee on Economy and Government Operations; as well as the Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations. He also has been chair of the Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, and was formerly a member of the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills.

Before being elected to the Legislative Assembly, Les served for three years as a Chilliwack municipal councillor before he became mayor from 1987 to 1999. During his 13 years as mayor, he served on a number of bodies, including chairing the Fraser Valley Regional District; trustee of the Municipal Finance Authority of B.C.; director of Union of B.C. Municipalities; and president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Les is also an honorary Rotarian who was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of his exemplary community service by the Rotary Club of Chilliwack.

Henry Renteria, former director of California Office of Emergency Services

Henry Renteria is an emergency management and public safety consultant who works with government, private industry and non-profit agencies to promote and implement preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation programs. Renteria has expertise in Emergency Operations Centres, Incident Command Systems, crisis intervention and disaster related legislation and funding.

Renteria served as the director of the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) from 2003 to 2009. As OES director he managed the State response and recovery to numerous local, regional and state disasters including the 2007 Southern California wildfires, the largest in California history. As a member of the Governor's Cabinet, he was responsible for co-ordinating all state agencies and resources in preparing, responding and recovering from human caused and natural disasters.

Prior to his state appointment, Renteria served as the director of the City of Oakland Office of Emergency Services for 18 years. While in Oakland he managed the city's response to six Presidential Declared disasters including the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and the 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm.

As a result of legislation from the firestorm, he served on the co-ordinating committee that created the California Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS). Additionally, he co-ordinated the state's first Emergency Manager's Mutual Aid program in response to the 1994 Northridge earthquake. He was in Japan in 1995 when the Kobe earthquake struck. He remained in Kobe for 10 days and personally witnessed the response and early recovery efforts.

Media Contact:

Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice
250 213-3602

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