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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Addressing risk in research and practice : business earthquake vulnerability in North Vancouver Lotze, Autumn Elaine


The catastrophic consequences of recent disasters like Hurricane Sandy and the Tohoku Earthquake highlight the necessity of adopting a proactive approach to risk management that emphasizes mitigation and preparedness in order to foster more resilient urban systems. This research focuses on one component of the urban system—the business community—and demonstrates the value of drawing deliberate linkages between risk research and practice to facilitate the development of community risk reduction strategies. Using North Vancouver as a case study, this research takes a two-fold approach to examining business earthquake vulnerability. Using the lens of an M7.3 Georgia Earthquake scenario, this research estimates potential business disruption and economic loss to the business community through the application of an economic loss model that considers simultaneous disruption from building damage, lifeline outage and neighborhood damage. This assessment is contextualized with data from a survey of local business risk perceptions and preparedness behaviors. Model results indicate that lifeline loss is a greater source of disruption to businesses than either building damage or neighborhood damage; a complete disruption of lifelines would leave only an estimated 28% of local businesses open and result in a loss of 73% of normal daily economic production. Survey results indicate business respondents are generally unprepared to respond to an earthquake or other hazard—only 25% report having a preparedness plan in place—and highlight a lack of knowledge as the most common barrier to increased preparedness. Ultimately, this study identifies patterns of risk and vulnerability in the North Vancouver business community, examines associations between business risk perceptions and preparedness behavior, and offers ways that subsequent findings can be used to inform public risk management strategies. The study also suggests ways to refine future research in this area.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada