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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)

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