Vancouver, BC, Canada is certainly a blessed city! Surrounded by water on three sides and nestled in among the Coast Mountains, it is regarded as one of the jewels of earth settlements.
However, this felicitous conjunction of water and mountain raises certain challenges in the area of public safety. The mountains are evidence of past earthquake activity – not surprising as Vancouver sits just off center at the meeting of several continental size tectonic plates. As these plates move and collide, Vancouver is like the flea on the tail that a dog wags. And the Pacific Ocean and mighty Fraser River are only a few bus stops away from any point in this town.
What can Vancouver do to prepare for a natural disaster such as earthquake or flood? Before decision makers can take action, they must know who and what is at risk. This thesis looks at finding the residents of the City who are most vulnerable in such an event. These residents are people who:
- Have low income
- Do not speak English
- Have mobility challenges
- Have low education
…or any number of factors. There have been numerous studies on this subject, but thus far there is not consensus on just what constitutes vulnerability. A key component of my thesis is an interactive Google Map, vulnerablevancouver.ca that allows a researcher to give different weights to different vulnerability indicators and then take appropriate action, such as scheduling seminars in areas of greater vulnerability.
It is an inexact science, but the more that we prepare now, the better off we will be when the earthquake or flood actually happens.