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In an era of cascading hazards, what are the multi-hazard solutions available to us? How do we collaborate across disciplines & cultures more effectively to implement them? 


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, and in alignment with the provincial Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy (CPAS). 

The symposiums aim to bridge the gaps across the science-policy-action interface towards reducing risk and building resilience in Southwest BC. Further, they aim to support deliberative dialogue and more effective collaboration across disciplines and cultures, recognizing that we all have an opportunity to learn from one another and that solutions-focused dialogue is a key underpinning to collaboratively advancing action.


  • AC ain't the only fix! Why BC needs a comprehensive approach to managing extreme heat: Moderated by: Tamsin Mills, Adaptation Collaborative 

  • Managed vs. un-managed retreat: successes and challenges in the Canadian context. Moderated by Sharmalene Mendis-Millard, Partners for Action.

  • Mt. Meager: taking an 'all of society' approach to cascading hazards. Moderated by: Veronica Woodruff, Clear Course Ltd. 

  • Advancing the incentivization agenda in Canada: developing incentives for earthquake, flood, & fire mitigation. Moderated by Keith Porter, Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction 

  • Understanding climate risk and technology in real estate appraisals. Moderated by Peter Sun, Vancouver Economic Commission

  • Seismic microzonation and basin effects: How do we apply the latest & greatest in hazard mapping in practice, from EEW to building design and retrofit? Moderated by: Allison Chen, Engineers and Geoscientists of BC

  • artistic contributions from Still Moon Arts Society

  • and more!

Download Full Program Here

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.

Sharmalene Mendis-Millard

Sharmalene is the Senior Manager, Research Partnerships & Evaluation at Partners for Action, an initiative of University of Waterloo's Faculty of Environment. She is a mixed-methods geographer whose community-engaged research focused on adaptive capacity in Canadian UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. She is passionate about the not-for-profit sector, having worked at Reep Green Solutions to promote lot-level stormwater management and as a Board member.  Sharmalene has also worked for several interdisciplinary research centres that aim to advance community well-being and social justice through community partnerships, program evaluations, and learning opportunities. She now focuses on equity in climate risk reduction and adaptation. 

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.

Veronica Woodruff, Clear Course Consulting

Veronica has over 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.

Jessica Shoubridge, Thrive Consulting

Jessica holds a Masters degree in Planning (MAP) from the University of British Columbia, with a concentration in Disaster Risk Management. Since moving to BC in 2009, she has worked with communities and organizations on award-winning projects that have taken innovative approaches to assessing risk and building resilience at the local (e.g. District of North Vancouver Community-Wide Seismic Risk Assessment, City of Vancouver Earthquake Strategy), regional (e.g. Lower Mainland Flood Management Strategy, Capital Regional District Extreme Heat Analysis) and provincial scale (e.g. Earthquake Integrated Asset Management Plan). Since 2016, Jessica has acted as the lead organizer for the Understanding Risk BC (URBC) symposiums; an all of society forum that brings together actors across the science-policy-action interface to address natural hazard and climate risk and build resilience in Southwest BC. The symposiums have built and strengthened a community of practice; one that builds capacity across orders of government, disciplines and cultures and fosters shared understanding and collaborative action to reduce risk and build resilience to the 'major hazards of concern' in the province's mostly densely populated region.

Understanding Risk BC 2023: Cascading Hazards, Multihazard Solutions

12:15pm- 8:15pm, October 11th

8:15am- 8:15pm, October 12th, 2023
In person
Day 1: Science World Theatre
Day 2: Asia Pacific Hall @ the Wosk Centre for Dialogue

Vancouver, BC

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Lands

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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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