The intent is to enhance Nanaimo’s  resiliency in responding to emergencies.

Client: Regional District of Nanaimo

Location: Nanaimo, BC

Project Type: Transportation

About This Project

The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) and the District of Lantzville have both been approved by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities for the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund. The intent is to enhance local governments’ resiliency in responding to emergencies; for example, to develop evacuation route plans for communities within the province that would otherwise be challenged in successfully undertaking an evacuation operation during an emergency like wildfire.

RDN, as the project lead, wishes to create an efficient evacuation route plan that understands existing capacities, identifies issues and hazards, and determines the safest routes and assembly points to move residents in case of an evacuation. RDN retained ISL Engineering and Land Services (ISL) to develop an Emergency Services Evacuation Route Plan for the District of Lantzville, Electoral Area E of RDN, and Nanoose First Nations that will align with the Provincial Evacuation Operational Guide.

One of the key principals of evacuation planning is to develop appropriate and flexible plans based on the analyses of hazard risk and vulnerability, population, and response capability. In other words, successfully performing it will not only require a deep understanding of the transportation infrastructure and services within, between, and outside of the communities, but also a sound understanding of the potential evacuation scenarios and situations. With approximately 10,000 residents in the study area, it is important to consider where vulnerable groups and affected population exist for different hazards.

To create this comprehensive evacuation route plan, our ongoing approach consists of:

  • Developing and cross-referencing GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping layers with demographic data and hazard information to pinpoint affected population and potentially blocked evacuation routes in the event of specific emergencies;
  • Reviewing the existing routes and identifying evacuation zones, constraints, feasibilities, opportunities, plus traffic-related infrastructures that need to be in place or upgraded to achieve safe and efficient outcomes;
  • Modelling transportation demand with techniques and software (Vissim) that are ideally suited for such full network-wide evacuation simulations with about 30 points of access (evacuation zones) and have the ability to replicate real conditions along different traffic inputs and scenarios; and,
  • Assessing evacuation durations by travel times, queue lengths, and vehicle densities for partial evacuations as well as immediate (no-notice) mass evacuation, providing an understanding of the worst-case scenario to help inform decision makers trigger an evacuation.

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