B.C. not prepared for big earthquake: report

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver



The provincial government won’t shake loose any more funds for seismic preparedness despite a magnitude 7.7 quake in Haida Gwaii just two years ago, predictions of an impending catastrophic earthquake, and now a shaming report from B.C.’s auditor general.

The B.C. Justice Ministry said “existing resources” would be maintained for earthquake preparedness and response. The government was responding to Auditor General Russ Jones’ report Tuesday that B.C.’s funding for the organization that would lead an earthquake response has been unchanged since 2006.

Emergency Management B.C.’s annual funding is $26.7 million with an “emergency services” budget of about $6.2 million, the report said.

In a statement, the ministry said there’s no breakdown for how much goes into preparing for the big one or any other hazard.

According to Jones’ report, B.C.’s lack of readiness was demonstrated two years ago in Haida Gwaii, when a major earthquake struck and caused a tsunami alert.

No one was injured in the quake, but it identified that EMBC didn’t have enough people with the experience, knowledge and training needed to respond.

It also found some local governments have inadequate emergency plans, while others didn’t have information on what local responders should do. A provincial “notification system” designed for fast communication was also found to be “cumbersome, resource-consuming and prone to errors.”

Additionally, EMBC also hasn’t been reporting back to the public on its efforts, the report found. In response, Victoria is now saying there will be annual reports and public consultation to identify any solutions needed.

“Very clearly, the Liberals are not prepared to put money into preparing all of us for what eventually will be a catastrophic earthquake,” New Democrat public safety critic Kathy Corrigan said.

“They decided they would rush to appoint a political fixer, in the name of (ex-Liberal MLA) John Les, because they knew there was about to be a report indicating their complete failure on this front.”




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