Local Government Profile

North Vancouver, Canada  
RoleModel North Vancouver
160.76 km2
Hazard Types
Earthquake, Flood, Land Slide, Storm Surge, Wild Fire
Name of Mayor
Mayor Richard Walton
  • Mayor Richard Walton

  • Hazard and vulnerability profile

  • Climate:

    The District of North Vancouver is sandwiched between the
    Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountain range along the SW
    coast of British Columbia, Canada. Particularly during fall and
    winter seasons, intense storms stall over the area, depositing
    heavy precipitation before rising up over the mountains and
    moving into the interior of BC. The storms often arrive with
    strong winds, warm temperatures and significant amounts of
    precipitation. Critical weather conditions for landslides are an
    extended period of rainfall causing ground saturation
    combined with intense rainfall (>7mm per hour). It is not
    unusual to receive 100mm+ precipitation in a 24 hour period.


    Two major watersheds supply Metro Vancouver's drinking
    water. The highest peaks in the area approach 1500 meters
    elevation, the lowest areas are at sea level, over a distance of
    only a few kilometers resulting in generally steep terrain.
    Many small creeks drain from the mountains into the ocean.
    The District forms part of Port Metro Vancouver, with heavy
    industry and transportation corridors located along the ocean
    front. Residential and commercial development has occurred
    on several debris fans. Most of the easily developed areas
    have been developed. As population continues to slowly
    grow, there are two options or a combination of both: urban
    density will increase and/or development will push into the
    surrounding mountainous terrain. The urban-wildland
    interface area is steep and forested. While the climate is
    generally wet, forest understory has built up ladder fuels,
    increasing the potential magnitude of forest fires. Situated
    within the Cascadia subduction zone, the District of North
    Vancouver is vulnerable to earthquakes. Geologic evidence
    indicates that megathrust earthquakes have occurred every
    300-800 years along the SW coast of British Columbia.
    Geological Survey of Canada conducts extensive research and
    monitors seismic activity, see

    Recent events:

    - 1995 major debris flow occurred on MacKay Creek in 1995,
    causing significant damage to residential properties.

    - 2005 landslide claimed the life of a woman sleeping in her
    home and seriously injured her husband.

    - 2006 windstorm caused damage resulting in $10 million in
    clean up costs.

    Landslide, debris flow, earthquake, flood, forest fire, severe

  • Disaster Risk Reduction Activities

  • Essential 1. Organization and Coordination

    An emergency management working group meets regularly
    and includes stakeholders from various municipal
    departments, health authority, neighboring municipal
    government, school district, first responders (Police, Fire ,
    Ambulance), public safety lifeline volunteers (Search and
    Rescue, Emergency Social Services, Amateur Radio
    Operators, Emergency Preparedness Educators), social
    services agencies, etc. Municipal and Regional emergency
    plans outline roles and authorities to prepare for, respond to
    and recover from a disaster. Department emergency plans
    identify specific tasks and areas of responsibility to carry out
    the operational aspects of emergency management.

    A natural hazards task force was formed in 2007.The task
    force is comprised of eight volunteer District residents with
    the mandate to recommend to Council the community's
    tolerable level of risk of from natural hazards. The task force
    received presentations from subject matter experts in the
    topics of natural hazards, risk assessment models, mitigation
    methods, financial and legal considerations. The task force
    sought public input through a variety of public consultation
    processes and, after much deliberation, made their
    recommendations to Council. Those recommendations form
    the District's current policy for risk tolerance. Hazards and
    risks are carefully considered when granting building and
    development permits. Risks are compared with the risk
    tolerance criteria and further reduced to as low as reasonably
    practicable. Read more at www.dnv.org/hazards
    The District works closely with the Association of Professional
    Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia, sharing best
    practices and assisting in the development of guidelines for
    professional practice.

    The District works with residents, private corporations and
    neighbouring government land owners to collectively reduce
    risk from landslides and forest fires by taking action to
    improve drainage on slopes and create defensible spaces
    along the urban-wildland interface area.

    Essential 2. Assign a budget
    An annual budget is assigned to the Natural Hazards

    Management Program to assess and manage risks. An annual
    budget is also assigned to the North Shore Emergency
    Management Office to develop municipal emergency plans,
    provide education for public, businesses and municipal staff,
    and to maintain the Emergency Operations Centre facility in a
    state of readiness.

    Incentives are available to homeowners living on the crests of
    slopes to upgrade storm drainage systems (connecting hard
    surface drainage to the municipal storm drainage system).

    The District funds a "Geotech-on-Demand" service, where
    property owners can request the services of a qualified
    professional to conduct a brief geotechnical or
    hydrotechnical assessment of their property and provide
    minor general guidance on next steps in reducing risk. This
    service is also used to assist in communicating the more
    technical aspects of risk assessment reports generated by the

    Essential 3. Prepare risk assessments

    An overview hazard, risk and vulnerability assessment was
    completed in 2005.
    Since then, the District has undertaken
    detailed risk assessments across the region on both private
    and public land for landslides, debris flows and forest fires.
    Detailed flood and earthquake risk assessments are currently
    underway. The District is working with the University of
    British Columbia's Earthquake Engineering Research Facility
    and the Geological Survey of Canada to better understand
    the potential impacts of earthquakes to our built

    Hazard and risk information is available to the public via the
    District's website, www.dnv.org/hazards and also spatially via
    www.geoweb.dnv.org under the Hazards application. As new
    assessments are completed, notification is sent to property
    owners, public meetings are held and records are added to
    the District's natural hazard database. The District works
    closely with the real estate community to ensure that full
    disclosure occurs when properties are transferred to new

    The North Shore Emergency Management Office has
    prepared region-wide pandemic and evacuation plans in
    additional to all-hazards municipal emergency plans.

    Essential 4. Invest in and maintain infrastructure

    The District utilizes tools developed by the Government of
    Canada to measure the importance and vulnerability of
    critical infrastructure. This information is shared among a
    large number of stakeholders in the region to understand
    interdependencies. hazard mitigation and upgrades to
    municipal infrastructure is completed on a systematic basis,
    based on priorities determined through risk assessments.

    Forest fire fuel treatments and seismic upgrades have
    recently been conducted in areas surrounding critical
    infrastructure (water and sewer service delivery systems,
    municipal facilities). Upgrading infrastructure will be
    challenging in the years to come because infrastructure is
    aging rapidly and local governments lack the financial
    resources to keep up with the need for replacement.

    Essential 5. Safety of school and health facilities

    Schools and health care facilities are not under the mandate
    and jurisdiction of local government. However, the District
    works closely with these agencies to better understand
    strengths, vulnerabilities and anticipated needs in a disaster.
    Participation in joint exercises and emergency planning
    initiatives have strenthened these relationships.

    Essential 6. Apply and enfore realistic, risk - compliant building
    regulations and land-use planning principles

    Procedures are in place to ensure that qualified professionals
    assess applications for proposed development, taking into
    consideration natural hazards and risks. A policy for risk
    tolerance criteria was recently adopted and applicants are
    required to meet the criteria for new and re-development.

    A new Official Community Plan is under development that
    includes Development Permit Areas for natural hazards to
    further regulate development in hazard areas. The District
    has partnered with Natural Resources Canada in an
    integrated risk assessment for natural hazards project. This
    four year project aims to refine a framework for local
    government land-use decision making, taking into account
    climate change and natural hazards.

    Essential 7. Education programmes and training

    A variety of emergency preparedness workshops are offered
    to the public and business community through the North
    Shore Emergency Management Office. Extensive information
    regarding hazards and risk reduction is available on the
    Districts's website, brochures and workshops. The provincial
    government develops educational information available to
    the public at www.pep.bc.ca.
    The District is working with a local teacher to develop natural
    hazards cirriculum for high school students.

    Essential 8. Protect ecosystems and natural buffers

    64% of the District is wilderness. Forest ecosystem mapping
    and an ecosystem-based management framework were
    recently developed to assist the District in meeting one of the
    key goals of our Official Community Plan: "to conserve the
    ecological integrity of our natural environment, while
    providing for diverse park and outdoor recreational
    activities". This topic is discussed in detail at
    www.identity.dnv.org. Policies and bylaws are in place to
    protect the natural environment that include limiting
    development near streams, strict regulations regarding
    removal of trees, and requirements for managing surface
    water runoff.

    Essential 9. Early warning systems and emergency management

    The District of North Vancouver has implemented a debris
    flow warning system, based on current and forecasted
    meteorological data combined with statistical analysis of
    historical events, to predict when debris flows are unlikely,
    possible, likely or very likely to occur. The system is updated
    hourly, and available between October - April each year via a
    telephone line and the District website. A similar warning
    system is in place for forest fires, updated daily. Emergency
    exercises are held periodically, for example, a full scale, multi
    agency interface fire exercise "Operation Dry Lightning" was
    held in 2008.

    The North Shore Emergency Management Office coordinates
    a telephone-based rapid notification system and ensures that
    the Emergency Operations Centre is maintained in a state of
    readiness. The District will participate in ShakeOut 2011, a
    drill where residents, businesses and staff are encouraged to
    drop, cover and hold.

    Essential 10. Needs of survivors

    The North Shore Emergency Management Office has a plan in
    place for Recovery Centres, aimed at coordinating the short
    term social needs of our community post-disaster through
    the Emergency Social Services volunteers, group lodging
    facilities and recovery centres. This plan needs further
    development to plan for mid and long-term recovery needs.

  • Disclaimer

  • The documents have been posted as received. The designations employed do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory or area, or of its authorities.

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