It should come as no surprise to anyone living here that Squamish, and the Sea to Sky, are chockablock full of hazards.
After all, we have seen floods, wildfires, a port fire and rockfalls just in recent years.
But then again, there is a lot going on in the world and many residents are new to Squamish.
A new survey and online workshop are aimed at understanding residents' preparedness for natural hazards such as floods, debris flows, landslides and other natural disasters.
Through the Centre for Natural Hazard Research at SFU, local Veronica Woodruff is working on a collaborative project with emergency managers throughout Sea to Sky.
"We have a ton of risks here. You name it, we've got it," Woodruff said. "So, it is a really great place to focus academically and then also with the increasing population, it has this really good opportunity... to create something that can be extrapolated to other communities."
The project involves academic partners at Royal Roads University, which Woodruff attends, SFU, UBC and Quest University, as well as the University of Washington and Portland State University. Local government emergency management departments, including Squamish Nation and the District of Squamish are also looped in.
"It is really great when you can find overlaps between what is happening in the research community that can directly support community initiatives," she said.
The survey is anonymous and found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N8C8C7J.)
In our area, on Dec. 3, there is a Zoom workshop from 9 a.m. until noon.
It will include expert presentations from researchers Steve Quane and Glyn Williams-Jones as well as updates from local emergency managers on their existing programs. Sea to Sky MP Patrick Weiler will also present on federal government programs.
"We will then have an opportunity to engage in facilitated dialogue about increasing preparedness and understanding. We are looking to engage with a variety of residents to get their perspective on this topic," Woodruff told The Chief.
The feedback from the survey and workshop will be shared with community managers to help better understand where residents are at in terms of understanding hazards and being prepared for them.
Woodruff said she recognizes people are overwhelmed right now with COVID-19 concerns, but this project isn't meant to be scary or to pile on worries. It is meant to empower. Knowledge is power and can be comforting, in other words.
"If we had randomly had a discussion in January about how a pandemic might play out over the year, locally — what it would do for businesses, we could have actually had a dialog around this is what will happen with information and this is what might happen locally with at risk businesses — you could have had some level of comfort to say 'I am prepared for a pandemic and what that means for me and my family and my job. I try to think about it through that lens."
For more information or to register for the workshop, contact Veronica Woodruff, firstname.lastname@example.org