Evacuation Quick Reference Guide Cover

Tips for Evacuation: Quick Reference Guide

This plan provides BIM, response agencies & partners a practical guide to conducting an evacuation of all or part of Bowen Island. The plan is a practical guide for BIM staff and external agencies to use before and during an evacuation of all or part of Bowen Island. It is laid out in such a was a to be most useful for staff in an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), and, as a publicly available document, to clearly convey evacuation guidelines, requirements and considerations for Bowen Island.

The plan provides background information useful during training such as an overview of EOCs and a review of the types of evacuation (that can be utilized when one has the benefit of time) as well as quick reference material and checklists that can be used as triggers for decision makers during an EOC activation in response to an evacuation. EOC functional tools are included such as a decision tree, step by step guides, forms, links to resources and information, planning and response considerations, as well as maps, ferry information and population estimates. A summary of the findings of the marine modelling is also provided.

In June 2020, BIM held a public Question & Answer Session on the draft Evacuation Plan for Bowen Island. It included a short presentation by the Emergency Program Coordinator, Planner 1 and the marine evacuation modeler and was followed by a question and answer session with panelists.

Watch the recording on YouTube 

Read the Evacuation Plan.


Evacuation planning was identified as a priority as early as 2007, given the potential for this type of planning to reduce the severity of losses (p. 15 of the now revised BIM Emergency Management Plan, 2007). The 2007 BIM Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) frequently references evacuation: the CWPP discusses the potential for a large interface fire and notes that “under this scenario, rapid evacuation of residents and safe escape or refuge for firefighters would be essential. At present, action is required to bring evacuation and emergency response planning to a level where this type of emergency is taken into account.” (p. 21) The CWPP also recommends “developing a contingency plan in the event that smoke requires complete evacuation of the island” (p. 31). Finally, the CWPP recommends that “an evacuation plan should be developed and appropriate evacuation routes should be mapped. A large fire may require the evacuation of the entire island and egress could be very restricted. A contingency plan for water evacuation should be developed in the event that the ferry is unavailable.” (p. 33)

The 2018 BIM Hazard Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (HRVA) also stresses the importance of evacuation planning as critical to the Municipality’s ability to conduct a successful evacuation. The HRVA notes that the presence of multiple terminating roads means that the potential for evacuation by water is a distinct possibility, and that “the multiple challenges posed by an island-wide evacuation make evacuation planning important to emergency preparedness on Bowen Island” (p. 26). The HRVA recommends that the Municipality engage in formal evacuation planning, and that this work could also prove useful in re-supplying the island in the event of a BC Ferries infrastructure failure, as well as in re-supplying sub communities that are not accessible by road post-disaster. Further, the Sept 2018 BIM Emergency Management Plan Gap Analysis (prepared in order to inform the Emergency Management Plan update), found that comprehensive emergency management planning should include evacuation plans as per the March 2018 Auditor General for Local Government Emergency Management in Local Governments Town of Sidney Audit Report.

Council authorized staff to apply to both the UBCM Community Emergency Preparedness Fund Evacuation Route Planning and Emergency Operations Centres (EOC) steams in order to fund this project in late 2018 (Evacuation) and early 2019 (EOC). Grant funding approval for the evacuation stream was received in Feb 2019 and a subsequent request for proposals for an evacuation plan was issued spring 2019.

Plan Development Methodology

3Si Risk Strategies Incorporated was engaged as consultant in late April 2019 and conducted multiple facilitation sessions with BIM staff, stakeholders, and partner agencies, as well as face to face engagement sessions with external partners, in order to develop plan content. Chartwell Consultants Ltd. were also engaged to update GIS data so as to ensure accurate local mapping information and to enable land-based route modelling in future.

The first draft of the Evacuation Plan was ready in the fall of 2019 and a training session for BIM EOC staff and stakeholders was held on Nov 13, 2019 to ensure awareness of the components of the plan and solicit feedback. A tabletop exercise was held Feb 4, 2020 in order to validate the plan; participants included BIM staff and representatives from BC Ferries, North Shore Emergency Management, Cormorant Marine, Metro Vancouver, First Bus Company and others.

3Si delivered the Evacuation Plan in late February 2020: it was reviewed and modified extensively by Municipal Staff and presented to the public for input in June 2020: the public engagement component of this project is further discussed below. 

Marine Evacuation Modelling  

The Strategic Planning for Coastal Community Resilience to Marine Transportation Risk (SIREN) project is a collaboration between researchers at the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, and Dalhousie University, and is funded by Emergency Management BC and the Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) Network of Centres of Excellence. A key objective of the project is to understand how a catastrophic earthquake in BC could affect the marine transportation systems and coastal communities that rely on them, and to identify effective resilience strategies. The Emergency Program Coordinator (EPC) was invited to attend a SIREN workshop on November 14, 2018 in order to gain additional information about the project, to provide feedback on how the project could best help BIM improve transportation resilience, and to benefit from an expert session which discussed undersea landslide hazards in the Georgia Strait.

After the first workshop, the EPC was subsequently asked to present Bowen Island as a case example to the SIREN project participants on May 29, 2019. An overview of Bowen Island was presented, as was a description of the Evacuation Plan project objectives and some of the challenges Bowen may face during an evacuation: a representative from 3Si attended as a guest in order to gather data from participating stakeholders such as Canadian Coast Guard, BC Ferries, etc.

As a result of this presentation, the EPC was invited to collaborate with researchers at the University of Washington who wished to use Bowen Island as a case study to test the marine evacuation model that had been developed by Fiete Krutein, pre-doctoral research associate, University of Washington. The EPC worked closely with the researchers to provide data on scenarios that may trigger an evacuation and information on the locally available fleet of vessels that may assist in an evacuation of Bowen Island. Mr. Krutein also participated in the Feb 4, 2020 table-top exercise of the plan in order to further develop the model and ensure its relevance in a practical setting. On February 28, 2020, Mr. Krutein presented his initial work and findings at a SIREN workshop, where additional input was gathered from relevant stakeholders. The results of these discussions and this modelling informed the Evacuation Plan and a summary of the findings of the modelling work is included in the plan order to aid decision makers in the EOC. 

Public Engagement 

In late June, the draft plan was made public and two community town halls were hosted, one for the public and another for the Neighborhood Emergency Response Program (NERP) volunteers. The first town hall took place on June 23, 2020 via zoom and approximately 40 people attended a presentation by the EPC, Planner 1 and Fiete Krutein. The town hall was facilitated by the BIM Communications Coordinator and supported by the Fire Chief and local RCMP Corporal, and the presentation was followed by a question and answer period. This town hall session was recorded and is available on the Municipal YouTube channel and via the website. There was generally a desire for more education, and a number of questions regarding the plan and its implications for the public. Areas of interest included considerations for people with disabilities, pets, evacuation at night/ without the ferry, evacuation via beach as opposed to dock and the likelihood of an island wide evacuation.

A second town hall for NERP volunteers took place on June 25, 2020 which also attracted approximately 40 attendees. This session was led by Edward Watchman, volunteer NERP coordinator, facilitated by Chris Corrigan and presented by the Emergency Program Coordinator and the Fire Chief. The focus was on educating the NERPs about the evacuation plan so as to better enable them to educate other islanders. The session also sought to incorporate local knowledge into the plan and identify possible roles the NERPs could play in future planning and during an evacuation. As a result of this town hall, multiple areas for further development were identified, and the NERPs expressed a desire to volunteer to assist during evacuation planning and/ or train to assist during a response. As a result of both town halls, changes have been made to the plan to provide additional clarity and address errors and omissions. Areas for further development were noted in order to address these in future as resources allow.

The plan was also reviewed by members of the Emergency Program Executive Committee, and input was received from members of the public directly via phone and email; an attempt was made to incorporate all feedback received via all methods.

Finally, communication to the public to increase awareness of the plan and encourage personal preparedness took place throughout the summer of 2020 including via the an article in the Undercurrent and social media.

2018 Hazard, Risk and Vulnerability Assessment