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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)

About Contributors

Murray Journeay, Research Scientist, Geological Survey of Canada, NRCan

Murray has spent the last thirty years exploring the geological architecture and evolution of mountain systems in western Canada, and the ways in which communities interact with this landscape in terms of sustainable land use and disaster resilience planning. Research activities with the Geological Survey of Canada have ranged from field-based investigations of regional tectonic processes that drive crustal deformation and related earthquake hazards in Western Canada to computer-based modelling of earthquake risk and risk reduction strategies. Murray currently leads the development of a national earthquake risk model for Canada to inform disaster resilience planning in accordance with policy and technical implementation guidelines established as part of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (United Nations, 2015: SFDRR). The model utilizes integrated risk assessment methods and emerging best practices of risk governance to develop a more holistic and empowering view of earthquake risk in Canada.

Jackie Yip, Research Scientist, 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 she specializes in predictive modelling and data-visualization.

Tiegan Hobbs, Seismic Risk Scientist, Geological Survey of Canada

Tiegan Hobbs, PhD, is a seismic risk scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada. With a background in geophysics, geology, and geotechnical engineering, she seeks to improve our understanding of how natural hazards impact humans and the built environment.

Sahar Safaie, Founder and Principal Consultant, Sage on Earth Consulting Ltd.

Sahar is the founder and principal consultant of Sage on Earth Consulting Ltd. The niche of her expertise and services is to enhance 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) where she managed the global multi-hazard risk assessment as part of Global Assessment Report (GAR) 2015, convened the global session on risk identification at the Sendai DRR Conference in 2015 and co-authored two of the Sendai Framework implementation guidelines on National Disaster Risk Assessment and on National Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies. Her past experiences also include working at Global Earthquake Model (GEM) foundation, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) at The World Bank in D.C., and Risk Management Solutions (RMS) in California. Since 2019, Sahar and her team at Sage Consulting have been working closely with NRCan as the lead contractor for DRR Pathways project. Sahar has a master’s degree in Earthquake Engineering from UBC.