Friday, March 18, 2011

Canada: 8,000 Vancouver buildings vulnerable to quakes

A Vancouver city councillor says it's time to find out specifically which buildings in the city would survive an earthquake, following a decades-old report that suggests thousands of buildings wouldn't.

"If you're a tenant in a building or a condo owner, you should be able to find out if that building is built to good seismic standards," Coun. Susan Anton told CBC News on Thursday.

Vancouver's building code now has the toughest seismic provisions in Canada, but the new standards apply only to buildings constructed in the last 10 years.

Prior to that, the city contracted engineers at Delcan Corp. in the 1990s to find out how many buildings were prone to serious damage and posed a danger to occupants in the event of a big earthquake.

The study concluded there were 8,000 buildings — including city hall — that were at risk of "catastrophic damage," most of them built before 1975.

Those buildings housed more than 158,000 people.

City staff reported to council following the report that the vulnerable buildings presented an "unacceptable level of risk," and compared to quake-prone cities in California, Vancouver had a "very high exposure level both in terms of life safety and property damage." (read more)