We know the area of land and coastline that now makes up British Columbia has experienced many major earthquakes and tsunamis in the past, and history has taught us that it is only a matter of time until the next “Big One” strikes. This is not speculation – a major earthquake is coming to the west coast. We as individuals, families, communities and as a province must do everything possible to better prepare for this eventuality. We are all in this together.
In the event a real, devastating earthquake and tsunami should strike B.C. in the near future, our government has made numerous seismic upgrades to provincial infrastructure, introduced better building codes and increasingly accurate early response technology, and developed the BC Emergency Management System, a four-phase emergency management structure – Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery – as opposed to focusing exclusively on emergency response.
The Province has also created my role as the British Columbia’s first Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness, to raise the profile and emphasise the importance of emergency preparation to the overall safety of British Columbians.
I am very proud of what Emergency Management BC and our emergency management partners have been able to achieve in recent years, and although British Columbia leads the nation in earthquake response planning and preparedness, we are firmly committed to continuous improvement. As outlined in the B.C. Earthquake Immediate Response Plan, our systems and procedures need to be tested, revised and enhanced. That is why we, as a government, are investing so much time and effort into Exercise Coastal Response, our province’s first full-scale earthquake and tsunami response exercise.
Exercise Coastal Response allows the Province to put theory into practice, to work alongside First Nations, local authority and federal partners – as well as hundreds of volunteers – to identify opportunities to better our emergency response mechanisms. The sobering outcomes of recent large-scale disasters around the world illustrate why we are doing so much to help protect the communities of B.C. and each and every British Columbian.
Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness