top of page
Image by hannah grace

Session Details

Black Swans Over Vancouver: Using risk models to inform disaster resilience planning 

13 October 2020

Webinar Format
Interactive Workshop

Presentation and Discussion



  • Explore the dimensions and driving forces of disaster risk in the Metro Vancouver region of southwest British Columbia.

  • Assess the anticipated disaster impacts for hotspot areas of concern, and the resulting strain on socioeconomic systems during the recovery process.

  • Identify specific interventions that will be effective in ‘flattening the risk curve’ and enhancing disaster resilience for the Metro Vancouver region

  • Evaluate risk reduction and recovery targets to help navigate pathways toward a more disaster resilient region by 2030.


‘Black Swans’ are extremely rare disaster events that strain the capabilities of people and systems to withstand and recover from both the direct physical impacts and cascading socioeconomic consequences. Like the COVID pandemic that we are now living through, catastrophic earthquake and flood events are not easily predicted, but widely considered obvious in hindsight. The immediate impacts are amplified by cascading failures that disrupt supply chains, economic systems and the social fabric of communities. Concentrated hotspots of impact and loss often reveal underlying physical vulnerabilities in the built environment and systemic social inequities that disproportionally affect the most vulnerable in society. 

Even the most sophisticated risk models cannot possibly capture the full dimension of impacts and consequences.  However, they do offer key insights into complex system behaviours that can help us anticipate the extent and magnitude of future events — and identify key actions that we can take in advance to ‘flatten the curve’ of escalating disaster risk over time. In this session, we will explore the dimensions of earthquake and flood risk in the Lower Mainland region and work together to identify strategic interventions (recovery pathways) that have potential to change the outcome of future Black Swan events in our region. Please join us to share your insights, knowledge and ideas on how best to navigate a path forward.


Convened by Murray Journeay & Jackie Yip (Geological Survey of Canada), With Tiegan Hobbs, Sahar Safaie (Sage Consulting),  David Bristow, and Andrew Deelstra: (UVic Civil Engineering, Cities and Systems Infrastructure Lab), and Paul Chouinard (Defence Research and Development Canada)

  • Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, Mitzi Dean - Speaker"
    Mitzi Dean was elected as MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin in 2017, and was appointed the Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity in February 2018. Parliamentary Secretary Dean grew up in southeast England and has spent the last 30 years helping vulnerable people. Before moving to the Victoria area in 2005, Mitzi Dean served as a national development manager for children's services with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the U.K.'s largest child protection charity. Prior to that, she worked in child protection social work and community-based social services across Great Britain for more than 20 years. She also volunteered at a Romanian orphanage and a transition house in the U.K. providing refuge for women experiencing relationship violence. Most recently, she served as executive director of the Pacific Centre Family Services Association. PS Dean lives in Metchosin with her partner and daughter.
  • Robin Cox, Ph.D. Royal Roads University"
    Robin is the Program Head of the graduate programs in Climate Action Leadership at Royal Roads University (RRU) and a Professor in the Disaster and Emergency Management Master of Arts program. As Director of the ResilienceByDesign ILab (RbD) at RRU, Robin leads multiple action research and educational initiatives focused on resilience and enhancing the capacity of youth and adults to address the complex and intersecting challenges of climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction.
  • Emily Dicken, Ph.D. First Nations Health Authority"
    Dr. Emily Dicken has worked as a practitioner in the field of emergency management since 2006, spending the first twelve years of her career with the province of BC working in health emergency management and then for Emergency Management BC where she held the role of Director, First Nation Coordination. Emily is now the Director of Emergency Management at First Nations Health Authority. Beyond her work at FNHA, Emily pursues academic interests with a central focus on understanding colonialism as an unnatural and enduring disaster impacting Indigenous communities. When not working, Emily can be found enjoying time in the outdoors with her husband Jeff and their two young sons, Keegan and Bowen.
  • Jackie Yip, Ph.D. Natural Resources Canada"
    Jackie Yip is a Research Scientist within the Public Safety Geoscience Program at Natural Resources Canada, where she is leading research efforts in developing best practices and new methods for understanding flood risk and community resilience and recovery. Her research interest lies at the intersect of climate adaptation, disaster risk modelling, and decision-making, and specializes in predictive modelling and data-visualization.
  • Laurie Johnson, Ph.D. Laurie Johnson Consulting I Research"
    Laurie is an internationally-recognized urban planner specializing in disaster recovery and catastrophe risk management, and based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For over 30 years, she has combined her unique blend of professional practice and research to help communities address the complex urban challenges posed by natural hazards and disasters. Much of her post-disaster recovery efforts are captured in her recent book, After Great Disasters: An In-Depth Analysis of How Six Countries Managed Community Recovery (2017). She is President of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and on the Board of Directors of the Earthquakes and Megacities Initiative and the Advisory Board of the Global Earthquake Model (GEM). She was also inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP) in 2018. She holds a Doctorate in Informatics from Kyoto University, Japan, as well as a Master of Urban Planning and Bachelors of Science in Geophysics, both from Texas A&M University.
  • Sahar Safaie (Moderator). Sage On Earth Consulting
    Sahar Safaie is the founder and principal consultant of Sage on Earth Consulting Ltd., based in North Vancouver. The niche of her expertise and services is to enhance the use of disaster and climate risk information in designing resilience policies, investments and programs. She has more than fifteen years of diverse experiences in BC and internationally including at United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), Global Earthquake Model, the World Bank, and Risk Management Solutions. Sahar has lead development of two of the Sendai Framework implementation guidelines on National Disaster Risk Assessment and National Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies.

bottom of page