Seismic Upgrade Recommendations for BC Buildings

March 26th, 2024 | in General Info
Seismic Upgrade Recommendations for BC Buildings

For the past 20 years, a number of government and scientific entities have worked together to create recommendations for seismic upgrades to buildings in British Columbia and oversee their implementation. In today’s blog article, we are going to talk about the history and evolution of these seismic upgrade recommendations.


This began in 2004 when the Ministry of Education wanted specifically schools in BC to be examined for safety and have some retrofitting for seismic upgrades. The Ministry approached both the Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia and University of British Columbia’s Civil Engineering Department to work together to create guidelines for this retrofitting.

In 2006, some Bridging Guidelines were published that outlined some consistent methodologies for retrofitting BC schools. In 2011, The Seismic Retrofit Guidelines superseded the Guidelines from 2006.

In 2013, a second edition of these Retrofit Guidelines was published. There was a third edition published in 2017, and another further edition came out in 2020 which was approved for use by the Ministry in 2022. This most recent 2020 edition included seismic data from the 2020 National Building Code.

Purpose and Scope

The point of all this work and these guidelines was to assess the seismic risk to public schools in BC, if there is a large seismic event off the west coast of Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii. The theory is that the effect on schools on Vancouver Island and on schools built on soft soils such as on the Lower Mainland in Richmond would be more serious than previously thought.

These publications ranked schools in the province based on their relative risk to prioritize seismic mitigation projects. The government has also offered training to engineers at many firms on these building and retrofit guidelines to help simplify and speed their implementation. The retrofitting of schools in BC according to these guidelines is ongoing.


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