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Session Details

Seismic Risk Reduction for Buildings: A Conversation About Options and Action 

15 September 2020

Webinar Format
Interactive Workshop

Presentation and Discussion

About Contributors

Micah Hilt, City of Vancouver Lead Seismic Policy Planner

Micah Hilt is the City of Vancouver’s Lead Seismic Policy Planner within the Green and Resilient Building group of the City’s Planning, Urban Design, and Sustainability department. Micah was also part of the City’s resilience team who authored Vancouver’s first resilience strategy, Resilient Vancouver, in 2019. Prior to joining the City, Micah served as the Deputy Resilience Officer for the City of San Francisco, working on San Francisco's 30-year Earthquake Safety Implementation Program. He is also a PhD student in the Geography Department at the University of British Columbia, researching urban resilience, urban theory and queer approaches to the urban.

Andrew Pape-Salmon, BC Building and Safety Standards, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Andrew Pape-Salmon is the Executive Director of the BC Building and Safety Standards Branch, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The Branch is responsible for the Building Act and building regulations such as the BC Building, Plumbing and Fire Codes; the Homeowner Protection Act, and the Safety Standards Act. Over the past seven years Andrew has worked in the field of building resilience, including seismic safety, both with the private sector (RDH Building Science) and two levels of government (City of Vancouver and the BC Government). Andrew is a Professional Engineer with a master’s degree in Resource and Environmental Management, specializing in economics and policy for sustainable and resilient buildings, communities and energy systems. He is an Adjunct Professor with the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Victoria and the instigator for the formation of an EERI student chapter.

Kylie Sandham, Policy Analyst, Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing, BC Public Service

Kylie is a Policy Analyst with Building and Safety Standards Branch where she works on projects related to CleanBC and resilience in the built environment. Kylie has over 10 years experience leading complex multi-stakeholder projects in the areas of public policy, land development and new construction, as well as capital renewals.


The session will facilitate a conversation among stakeholders on policy options for seismic risk reduction for buildings.


This session will provide an overview of the current regulatory context for buildings in British Columbia as it relates to seismic risk reduction and will explore potential policy tools and approaches for vulnerable building types as well as new tools to pursue risk reduction action.  It will explore seismic risk reduction in the context of transformational opportunities, where the nexus of issues of affordability, potential displacement or disruption of residents, and cost, among other intersections, are at work. This session will present early, high-level findings from cutting-edge risk assessment work as well as a detailed account of the provincial regulatory context around existing buildings to ground a case study-based discussion of potential policy tools to reduce our risk. The session will use the Province’s development and expansion of performance-based seismic retrofit guidelines (SRG) to deepen our engagement regarding risk reduction policy possibility. 


The session will be structured as two presentations followed by an interactive workshop style discussion that is then followed by a presentation on the SRG which will allow for another deeper discussion on risk reduction tools at all levels of government and within all sectors. 

The ideal audience would be participants from engineering firms, policy experts, interested stakeholders from property management, and the construction sector. It would be great to have both familiar faces at the table and new faces, as much of the information will be new or new in the sense that it is presented all at once.

Discussion Questions

  • At a high level, what would be everyone’s top 3 solutions? That is, given the list of building types what would be the most effective AND most feasible means to reducing risk in each of those building types (5-7)? From this high-level question, we can use this to isolate policy options generally and start to understand the opportunities and constraints.

  • What are the unique challenges to each general type use (of buildings) - high-density and low density multi-family residential, low-density commercial (retail, office) and higher density commercial? 

  • What are key secondary regulation and enabling mechanisms that would be needed or required? e.g., tenant protections, funding programs (more specifically than they generally exist), examples from failures and successes of policy addressing other goals and challenges, etc


Convened by Micah Hilt & Andrew Pape-Salmon, With Kylie Sandham