Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Failure of credibility

It's probably safe to assume that more people read Focus Magazine than read my blog, so many of those reading here may be familiar with the endless downplaying of seismic risks for our now condemned bridge (by virtue of the referendum vote of just better than 60% giving us the borrwoing authority we need to build a new one).  Their latest issue suggests there is no need to protect our bridge because much of downtown will be rubble anyway.

That's incorrect, since all new construction and many older buildings supported by heritage property tax holidays are being protected to current building code levels, so, as was the case in Chile (Focus must think we are Haiti), damage will be more limited, life safety better protected, and our ability to recover more resilient.

There's lots more fault to find with Focus now, and then (during their long campaign against the new bridge), but for the time being, at least, one interesting read is an article from the Globe and Mail's Report on Business detailing some of the concerns of the insurance industry with respect to how well we are prepared for a major quake, which they also note is likely to hit the west coast sometime in the not too distant future.

An opening note in the article remarks on the need to upgrade critical infrastructure, including bridges,  to withstand a major seismic event.  My research, reported elsewhere on this blog or at my website, covered the issue from a couple of perspectives - bridges are at the top of the priority list of critical infrastructure and investing in protection or mitigation provides net positive benefits are two topics covered in some detail.

Now that the citizens, well enough informed I think, have endorsed the project, we are working towards covering off that one critical link in our own transportation network that will help protect life safety, ensure emergency response and other critical services have access to intact infrastructure, and provide for recovery in the event of an earthquake.

While Focus now suggests that the process and the decision are tainted by a "failure to inform", the real failure here is one of credibility.  There hasn't been much of value there on the issue of what potential threats we face in Victoria from a major earthquake, but just in case you haven't read enough, here's the Globe article:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/canada-not-prepared-for-major-earthquake-insurers-warn/article1823164/

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