B.C. earthquake raises emergency preparedness questions

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson warns residents to be prepared for an earthquake. (CBC)

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake off the coast of B.C.'s Haida Gwaii islands has Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson urging residents to be prepared for a natural disaster.

At a news conference Sunday afternoon, Robertson said Vancouverites live in a place that’s due for a big quake.

“We all watched, I think with real concern, the earthquake up the coast and then the ensuing tsunami warnings on our coast and across in Hawaii,” he said.

“[It was] obviously too close to home. We are very much worried about a big earthquake here. We're due for one in Vancouver, and we're doing everything we can do as a city to prepare for that over these last couple of years.”

Robertson said the city has invested significantly in emergency preparedness over the past four years, adding the city has six emergency response stations in addition to a volunteer force ready to mobilize in the face of a disaster.

But he said individuals and businesses need to make preparations of their own.

“A real focus needs to happen for residents and businesses to prepare for the big one. This was definitely a wake-up call for everyone across Vancouver that we need to be ready for the big one,” he said.

“I don't think overall everyone is ready in this city. I think people need to have their own kits for their families [and] businesses need to be ready for disruption.”

Robertson said the city offers courses on earthquake preparedness. Residents are asked to call 311 for more information.

Meanwhile, B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake says the earthquake raises questions about what could happen to an oil pipeline — like the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project — in the event of a similar quake in the future.

“That's why we've been asking those really tough questions about response capability, about liability insurance … You have to plan for the worst and that's why we've been pressing for those details,” Lake said.

“I think you know it's to be expected that any kind of infrastructure that we have in British Columbia would be designed to withstand the type of events that we expect may happen.”

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