Canadian Consulting Engineer

Seismic mitigation program gets the chop in B.C.

Consulting Engineers of British Columbia is voicing concerns over the provincial government's decision to end the S...

April 17, 2003   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Consulting Engineers of British Columbia is voicing concerns over the provincial government’s decision to end the Seismic Mitigation Program.
The program was designed to improve safety in a major earthquake, and had been used to formulate ways of mitigating the effect of a major earth movement on public buildings such as schools and hospitals. Experts believe the coastal region of B.C. will be hit by an earthquake 10 times more powerful than the Kobe earthquake in 1995, which measured 6.8 on the Richter scale. It’s said that it is not a matter of “if” the region will suffer an earthquake calamity, but “when.”
The seismic program was ended March 31, following an announcement in the provincial budget that “future requirements will be funded within the established operating and capital budgets for each agency.” However, Consulting Engineers of B.C. does not think funds will be readily available from agencies such as the Health Authorities and the School Districts, as they are already struggling to provide basic services.
The CEBC says, “a successful mitigation program requires dedicated funding,” and they urge the government to renew support.
The Seismic Mitigation Program had been initiated as a four-year pilot project in 1999 and was administered under a special branch of the B.C. Ministry of Finance. Funding was used to promote the seismic upgrade of schools, post-secondary facilities, hospitals and post-disaster facilities in the areas of the province seen as most prone to an earthquake disaster. Elementary schools were given high priority due to the age of the students in these facilities.
The program was used for both structural and non-structural mitigation measures, though non-structural measures ere given priority as they have been found to cause most loss of life. In hospitals, for example, non-structural improvements have included installing protective film on glass adjacent to exit routes, restraints for ceilings, and fastening down equipment.
To date, over $39 million of seismic mitigation funding had been disbursed, with $19.9 million of this going to schools. Approximately 725 schools in these districts have undergone some seismic mitigation work since the inception.
The program had also produced two standards in the form of two guidelines — one for structural and the other for non-structural mitigation to help administrators, teachers, custodians, facilities managers and parents identify what needs to be done and how to do it. See www.fin.gov.bc.ca


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