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Explore the challenges & opportunities associated with development in hazardous areas in BC. Help advance solutions.

‘While one single land-use decision may not increase risk significantly, years of small decisions that incrementally increase risk can lead to unacceptable levels’
-American Planning Association (APA), 2005

Event Summary

Since 2017, the Understanding Risk BC (URBC) symposiums have been bringing people together in a way that fosters the necessary, interdisciplinary, ‘all of society’ approach to reducing risk and building resilience in Southwest BC. The community-based symposiums have worked to shift the conversation from risk assessment/analysis (what can we expect?) to an evaluation of risk reduction strategies to help build resilience through proactive plans, policies and investments (what actions are needed and how best to implement/finance them?, what are the priority actions with the greatest risk reduction potential?).


The objectives of the URBC Symposiums are in line with the priorities for action of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030), which was adopted by the BC government in 2018. These same priorities are in line with and in support of the National Emergency Management Strategy for Canada: Toward a Resilient 2030 and its current focus on earthquakes, floods, and wildfires. Further, the symposiums support implementation of the National Adaptation Strategy (NAS) at the regional scale.

Featuring Contributions From


Tyrone McNeil, Stolo Tribal Council

Tribal Chief Tyrone McNeil is Stó:lō and a member of Seabird Island Band. He has extensive experience working to advance First Nations languages and education, collaborating with First Nations across the country, and developing agreements and partnerships with government. Tribal Chief McNeil manages a First Nation construction company that employs up to 70 Indigenous men and women, with expertise in Operational Health and Safety, safety audits, human resources management, operations and budgeting in civil construction and pipeline industries.

John Sherstobitoff, Ausenco

John is a structural engineer with over 30 years’ experience relating to the structural and seismic analysis and design of both infrastructure and buildings. He has worked on numerous new projects as well as renovation and upgrade projects developing and incorporating innovative and cost effective schemes for construction within existing facilities and on limited sites.

Julie Wright, Partners for Action

Julie took on the role of Director at Partners for Action in December 2020. Previously, she led Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI) through its start-up phase to successfully launching a decade-long Summit series and catalyzing collaborations related to each event. The inaugural summit, Energy 2030 (2011), focused on a roadmap for decarbonizing global electricity supply, while Learning 2030 (2013) explored the redesign of high school for the 21st century. OpenAccess Energy (2016) examined the acceleration of electricity access for the energy isolated and in 2018, Generation SDG concentrated on catalyzing collective action toward the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Canada. WGSI’s most recent project was the relaunch - in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic - of Together|Ensemble, Canada's national, all-of-society conference on the implementation of the SDGs. WGSI played an important role localizing the SDGs in Canada as a field catalyst. Prior to working at WGSI, she spent ten years in communications and public affairs roles for companies, clients, and campaigns in the tech, cultural and non-profit sectors at the forefront of sector disruption.

Veronica Woodruff, Clear Course Consulting

Veronica has more than 23 years of experience working in project leadership, environmental assessment and restoration, community engagement and education, and community stewardship. Prior to co-founding Clear Course, she worked as a project manager for an environmental consulting firm where she used her keen understanding of watershed processes to inform projects in hydrology, wildlife, fisheries, and terrestrial monitoring, including analysis and reporting. She has worked closely with local, provincial, and federal agencies in negotiation, permitting, planning, and project support, and she has a comprehensive understanding of the legislated roles and responsibilities within and between government agencies and departments.

Understanding Risk BC 2023: Cascading Hazards, Multihazard Solutions

October 11th &12th, 2023
In person

Vancouver, BC

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The Understanding Risk Community

Understanding Risk (UR) is an open and global community of over 6,500 experts and practitioners interested and active in disaster risk identification. UR community members share knowledge and experience, collaborate, and discuss innovation and best practice in risk assessment and risk communication and how to apply risk assessment in service of risk reduction and building resilience.

Registration Fees + Volunteers

The Understanding Risk Community is underpinned by the principle that events should be open and accessible to all. Please contact the organizers if you would like to request a waiver for registration fees and/or would like to volunteer in place of paying the registration fee. We are seeking volunteers to assist with social media, convenor supports, and other event- related tasks.


Please be in touch if you / your organization would like to support this year’s symposium. Opportunities range from Supporter level, to Investor level, to Lifeline level.

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