Innovation - Spring 2024

As the official publication of Engineers and Geoscientists BC, Innovation is circulated to about 46,000 professional engineers and geoscientists. The magazine is published quarterly.

Court rules on ‘engineer’ title | Advocacy body update | Renew Permit to Practice


Lessons from Türkiye’s earthquake

Integrating CE in the workplace

Mass timber buildings on the rise



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SPRING 2024 | volume 28 number 1 INNOVATION

COMMENT 4 Viewpoint 7 Letter to the editor

5 Court ruling on ‘engineer’ 6 APEGA title protection 9 Advocacy body update 10 Renew Permit to Practice REGULATORY NEWS 12 Nominations open for fellowships 12 Seeking presenters for conference 14 Guidelines and advisories 15 Professional Practice inquiries 39 Discipline and enforcement 46 Continuing Education OTHER 43 Display advertisers’ index 45 In memoriam FEATURES Earthquake preparedness 16 Lessons from Türkiye 22 Is BC ready? 26 CE at work 30 Mass timber buildings ON THE COVER The February 2023 earthquakes in Türkiye caused buildings to tilt and settle or collapse completely due to liquefaction in this Golbasi neighbourhood. Photo: Allison Chen


16 Lessons from Türkiye Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s practice advisor Allison Chen reflects on viewing up close Türkiye’s response following the February 2023 earthquake. Photo: Allison Chen 22 Is BC ready for the ‘Big One?’ How does the BC Building Code match up with other earthquake-prone countries’ regulations?

Mass timber buildings on the rise

BC is allowing 12-storey mass timber buildings, which carry sustainable and practical advantages, but also fire safety concerns. Photo: Steven Errico Photography


Innovation update What is an accessible publication? You’re looking at it. We revamped the fonts and text and background colours to make Innovation easier to read by a broader audience. Our font is clearer, larger and we have reduced the light text on dark backgrounds that was difficult to read. We hope this makes reading Innovation more enjoyable for everyone.

This digital edition of Innovation includes video extras. Look for this play icon, and click on it to view video and other multimedia content. An internet connection is required.

Innovation Spring 2024


INNOVATION SPRING 2024 | volume 28 number 1


Housing demand challenges professionals Recently, I was showing our son, who is a carpenter, what a waterproof notebook looks like. On one of the first pages, labelled Marathon Coal Harbour, October 2, 1992, was a list of observation water wells, their water depth, and the time of day.

ENGINEERS AND GEOSCIENTISTS BRITISH COLUMBIA Suite 200 - 4010 Regent Street, Burnaby, BC Canada V5C 6N2 Tel: 604.430.8035 | Toll free: 1.888.430.8035

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BOARD 2023/2024 C hair : M ichelle M ahovlich , ME ng , P.E ng ., P.G eo ., FCSSE V ice C hair : M ark P orter , P.E ng ., S truct .E ng . I mmediate P ast C hair : M ark A dams , P.E ng . BOARD MEMBERS B ill C han , CPA, CGA, MBA, ICD.D; L eslie H ildebrandt , ICD.D, LLB; V eronica K nott , P.E ng .; E mily L ewis , CPA, CMA; K aren L ing , P.E ng .; C athy M c I ntyre , MBA, C.D ir ; M ahsoo N aderi -D asoar , P.E ng .; M atthew S almon , P.E ng .; J ens W eber , P.E ng . EXECUTIVE TEAM H eidi Y ang , P.E ng ., FEC, FGC (H on .), C hief E xecutive O fficer L iza A boud , MBA, ABC, ICD.D, C hief O perating O fficer J ennifer C ho , CPA, CGA, C hief F inancial and A dministrative O fficer D avid P avan , R.PH., C hief R egulatory O fficer and R egistrar EDITORIAL ADVISORY GROUP Ryan Bird, P.Eng.; Allen Heinrichs, P.Eng.; Mahsa Mohajerani, P.Eng.; Roozbeh Nemati, PMP, P.Eng.; Raya Smertina, P.Eng.; Aman Tanvir, P.Eng.; Stefano Vitucci, P.Eng. Innovation is published quarterly by Engineers and Geoscientists BC. As the official publication of the organization, Innovation is circulated to all registrants of Engineers and Geoscientists BC as well as architects, contractors and industry executives. The views expressed in any article do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the Board or Engineers and Geoscientists BC. Sales Representative: Wing-Yee Kwong Tel: 604.681.1811 Email: For information see: SUBMISSIONS Innovation does not accept unsolicited articles or photos, but we do welcome article proposals and ideas. Proposals should be of interest and relevant to our readers and recognize the regulatory role of Engineers and Geoscientists BC in ensuring public safety and environmental protection. They should not be a "sales pitch" for a company or organization. Send suggestions to: LETTERS Innovation welcomes letters from our readers. All submitted letters may be subject to editing for length, clarity or accuracy. We reserve the right to reject unsuitable letters and we do not publish open letters to third parties. Send letters to: REPRINTS & COPIES All material is copyright. For reprint permission or extra copies, contact: SUBSCRIPTIONS All registrants with Engineers and Geoscientists BC receive Innovation in print or digital form. Registrants can update their communication preferences for Innovation in their accounts at Send print or digital subscription requests to: MANAGING EDITOR Shelley Nicholl Printed in Canada by Mitchell Press Ltd. on recycled paper ADVERTISING SALES

I had just moved to BC from Ontario in April 1992. The company I worked for had an office in the Marine Building on Burrard Street, overlooking the then-undeveloped area of Coal Harbour. One of my first big jobs was to undertake a contaminated site assessment of the proposed development area. Our firm drilled hundreds of boreholes in support of the redevelopment of Coal Harbour, at that time being developed by Marathon Realty. Fast forward 30 years and Coal Harbour is a beautiful, thriving community on the waterfront. It took many years, decades even, to develop that community. Today, we are in a housing crisis and need to construct hundreds of dwellings and services to support our collective communities rapidly— not over several decades. Geoscientists and engineers together are going to be challenged now and in the coming years to develop creative ways to economically provide infrastructure (water, sewer, roads, hospitals, recreation centres, etc.) to support this housing while still making those homes affordable. We will need to support municipalities and developers alike. The easy-to-develop areas have been built out. Those were the flattest lands, the easiest soils, and the serviced lots. We now move into areas of challenging terrain, ground conditions such as bedrock and peat, high-water tables and/or undersized or no services. There will be times when we have exhausted all options and will have to just say that the land is not economically viable for development. As registered professionals, safety is paramount. Now more than ever it will be important to share ideas between professionals to support the province and our municipalities so that we can all enjoy a safe place to live.

Michelle Mahovlich, MEng, P.Eng., P.Geo., FCSSE


ISSN 1206-3622 Publications Mail Agreement No 40065271. Registration No 09799. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Innovation , Suite 200 - 4010 Regent Street, Burnaby, BC V5C 6N2.


Spring 2024



Court ruling confirms title protection over ‘engineer’

in the regulatory body, or authority to practice the profession regulated by that body.” Hilderman launched an appeal December 29, 2023, to the BC Court of Appeals. Non-registrant using engineer title Hilderman was the People’s Party of Canada candidate for the Saanich Gulf Islands riding in the federal election of September 2021. On his website and in his promotional materials, Hilderman described himself as an “engineer” with a Bachelor of Applied Sciences degree. Hilderman’s possible misuse of title was brought to the attention of Engineers and Geoscientists BC, which then launched an investigation. On December 7, 2021, Engineers and Geoscientists BC sent a letter to Hilderman stating he was breaching the PGA and demanded he remove the title “engineer” from his online materials and not refer to himself as an “engineer.” Hilderman’s initial reply suggested he might comply, but two weeks later, Hilderman wrote back saying he disagreed. He said he did not represent himself as a professional engineer and “the mere mention of my educational background in the context of a political campaign is not contrary to the PGA .” After further correspondence, Hilderman still refused to comply. On September 13, 2022, Engineers and Geoscientists BC filed a civil claim against Hilderman in the BC Supreme Court. Engineers and Geoscientists BC asserted Hilderman breached s. 52(3) of the PGA and sought a permanent

A December 1, 2023, BC Supreme Court decision affirmed protection over the title “engineer” under the Professional Governance Act (PGA) . The decision supported the civil claim Engineers and Geoscientists BC brought against Saanich politician David Hilderman, who has never been a registrant, for using the term “engineer” in his political promotional materials. The court granted a permanent injunction against Hilderman prohibiting him from using the title engineer in any manner that expresses or implies that he is a registrant of Engineers and Geoscientists BC or authorized to practice engineering. “We are pleased with this decision that reinforces the importance of title protection,” says Engineers and Geoscientists BC CEO Heidi Yang, P.Eng. “Title protection protects everyone. Public safety is forefront when engineers in BC have met the high standard of practice requirements and ethics to be registrants of Engineers and Geoscientists BC.” In his decision, Justice Jan Brongers noted the specific sections of the PGA which refer to the title “engineer” and found that registrants of Engineers and Geoscientists BC are “given the exclusive right to use certain reserved titles, namely: (a) ‘professional engineer;’ (b) ‘professional engineering licensee;’ and (c) ‘engineer in training.’” Justice Brongers noted that section 52(3) of the PGA “...effectively prohibits non-registrants from using reserved titles or other names that express or imply either membership

Photo: Stock Studio 4477/ Shutterstock

injunction in relation to Hilderman’s use of the title “engineer.” Usage within prohibition While Hilderman stated he was not implying he was a “professional engineer,” the judge determined that by saying he was an “engineer” with an applied sciences degree and engineering experience, doing contract engineering work and having worked in the electronics industry, such behaviors “cumulatively come within the prohibition.” Justice Brongers ultimately found Hilderman breached the misuse of title prohibitions of the PGA and granted judgment in favour of Engineers and Geoscientists BC. unauthorized practice files per year. For more information, see: Unauthorized-Practice-or-Title/ Unauthorized-Practice-Misuse of-Title. For the full Supreme Court decision, see: bcsc/doc/2023/2023bcsc2214/202 3bcsc2214.html Engineers and Geoscientists BC processes approximately 200 misuse of title and

Innovation Spring 2024



APEGA says, ‘title protection is vital’

APEGA Registrar and CEO Jay Nagendran, P.Eng., FCAE, ICD.D, FEC, FGC (Hon.), told registrants that APEGA had suggested other options to protect the integrity of the title, but, in the end, the government made a different decision. Nagendran said: “We believe title protection is vital to preserving public safety and maintaining high standards of practice and ethics.” Protecting title was also at the forefront of APEGA’s request last fall for an injunction to stop Getty Images and Jobber Inc. from using the title software engineer in ad listings for recruiting non-registrants. The request was denied and on

December 8, 2023, APEGA appealed the decision. In a news release October 14, 2022, Nagendran explained the significance of title: “You would not want someone to operate on you in the province if they are not licensed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. By that same token, you do not want someone designing your pacemaker or self-driving car if they are not a licensed engineer. That puts people’s lives at risk—something APEGA takes very seriously.”

In Alberta, the tech industry may soon be able to use the term “software engineer,” even for those not registered with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). On December 6, 2023, the Alberta government tabled legislation to exempt the title “software engineer and any related titles specified” in the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act . It’s a move to placate the tech industry that says it’s difficult to recruit employees without using the globally accepted term of software engineer. The title “software engineer” has not been exempted in BC.

MMCD Accepted, BC MoTI Recognized, AREMA Approved



Spring 2024



Letter to the editor Not all engineering work requires professional title

Dear Editor, With regard to the recent court decision against David Hilderman on his use of the term “engineer,” I do not consider this a fair decision (see article page 5). It has the potential to unfairly undermine the careers of tens of thousands of “engineers” in the province. At no time did Mr. Hilderman hold out to be a “professional engineer.” Historically, over millenia, once you met the standards to be an engineer, through education or other means, you were called an engineer. If you wanted to use a reserved title of “professional engineer,” you were required to apply to be part of that special segment of the engineering profession, and to meet their requirements. When I graduated from UBC with my Bachelor of Applied Science degree, I attended the Iron Ring ceremony, and took the oath. The ring and oath are the symbol and reminder of the obligations and ethics associated with being a member of the engineering profession in Canada. We called ourselves engineers; we had earned the right to do so! It was up to us to decide whether we wanted to work toward the reserved title of “professional engineer” going forward. To try and change the definition of the term “engineer” is unwarranted discrimination against those who have met the requirements to be called engineer and are competently doing engineering work. We “professional engineers” use the P.Eng. designation in association

with our name. This demonstrates that we have met the requirements to belong to the special category of engineer called professional engineer. If those qualified engineers who chose not to become a professional engineer cannot call themselves engineer, what are they supposed to call themselves? Engineer is a legitimate title that goes back to 2550 BC. I do acknowledge that Engineers and Geoscientists BC has a very critical roll to play in protecting society. But belonging to Engineers and Geoscientists BC must be an uncoerced choice, and not a requirement. There are countless aspects of engineering work that do not require professional engineer status. In my opinion, Mr. Hilderman’s rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms have been violated. Section 26 states: The guarantee in this Charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed as denying the

existence of any other rights or freedoms that exist in Canada. For the engineering profession, I interpret the mandate of Engineers and Geoscientists BC is to regulate professional engineers, professional engineering licensees and engineers in training. Legally, this cannot be interpreted to include the title “engineer,” based on the historical definition and use of the term engineer. I believe it was a grave mistake for Engineers and Geoscientists BC to bring this action against Mr. Hilderman. I do hope those with the authority to make such decisions in the future will consider the historical definition of the term “engineer” before doing so again. Engineers and Geoscientists BC is a regulating body, not a political organization. William J. (Bill) Robinson, BSc, MBA, P.Eng. (Retired)




Innovation Spring 2024


We’re finding low-carbon energy in unlikely places Like biogas captured from compost to create Renewable Natural Gas 1 (RNG). It’s a low-carbon 2 energy that can be used in homes and businesses across the province—and we’re adding more to our supply every year. Our gas system can provide RNG to buildings and developments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This means buildings can meet strict emissions

guidelines without expensive upgrades or retrofits. Find out more about RNG at .

Connect with us @fortisbc

1 Renewable Natural Gas (also called RNG or biomethane) is produced in a different manner than conventional natural gas. It is derived from biogas, which is produced from decomposing organic waste from landfills, agricultural waste and wastewater from treatment facilities. The biogas is captured and cleaned to create Renewable Natural Gas. 2 When compared to the lifecycle carbon intensity of conventional natural gas. The burner tip emission factor of FortisBC’s current Renewable Natural Gas (also called RNG or biomethane) portfolio is 0.29 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per megajoule of energy (gCO 2 e/MJ). FortisBC’s current RNG portfolio lifecycle emissions are -22 gCO 2 e/MJ. This is below B.C.’s low carbon threshold for lifecycle carbon intensity of 36.4 gCO 2 e/MJ as set out in the 2021 B.C. Hydrogen Strategy. (24-004.23 02/2024)


Spring 2024



Advocacy body sets timeline for 2024

The inaugural board of the advocacy body for engineering and geoscience in BC has set its timeline in order to be operational by September 2024. The focus now is on legal incorporation and operational planning, as well as developing an online presence and work plan. The advocacy body inaugural board was appointed in October 2023 by a steering committee established by Engineers and Geoscientists BC.

Inaugural board established by steering committee

Operational foundations in place

Establish operational infrastructure

Mar 2024

Aug 2024

Jun 2024


Sep 2024

Build governance

Society is stood up

Establish legal entity

Advocacy body board members Andrew Randell, P.Geo. – Chair Katie Au, P.Eng. – Vice Chair Damineh Akhavan, P.Eng., FEC Pattie Amison, P.Geo. Lucas Hallett, EIT Victoria Morrison, P.Eng. Julius Pataky, P.Eng. Keith Recsky, P.Eng. (Retired), FEC Kirk Richardson, EIT

Nina Sutic-Bata, P.Eng. Godwin Wong, P.Eng. Uranbileg Yondon, P.Geo.

For advocacy body updates, see: Programs-Initiatives/Advocacy-Body.

Innovation Spring 2024



Get ready to renew your firm’s Permit to Practice Update information

Registrant firms are required to renew their Permit to Practice annually. This year’s Permit to Practice renewal process for registrant firms opens on April 1, 2024. An email reminder will be sent to registrant firms in the first week of April with information and links to access the Permit to Practice renewal information. Registrant firms have until May 31, 2024, to complete the renewal process. To renew, the Permit to Practice must be in compliance with the requirements, which include having all Responsible Registrants complete the Regulation of Firms Permit to Practice training within the timelines required and have a Professional Practice Management Plan (PPMP) in place. The purpose of the PPMP is to document the policies and procedures that indicate how the registrant firm will meet ethics, quality management, and continuing education requirements.

As part of the renewal, registrant firms are required to update their information and pay an annual fee. A Responsible Registrant must log in to their account through the Engineers and Geoscientists BC website ( ) and from their Account Dashboard, access their firm profile to update their firm’s information. Specific criteria to update includes: ◾ office location ◾ industry and area of practice ◾ names and contact information including email addresses of the Responsible Officer and Responsible Registrant ◾ the firm’s roster of registrants and number of individuals who are registrants of each regulatory body under the Professional Governance Act with the exception of Engineers and Geoscientists BC This information can only be completed by a Responsible Registrant. Penalties for non-compliance

A 15% late fee will be applied to the annual fee

June 1, 2024

Firm will be prohibited from practice

July 1, 2024

September 1, 2024 Permit to Practice is cancelled

If the Permit to Practice renewal is not completed by May 31, late fees will be applied to the registrant firm’s account. If by July 1, the Permit to Practice renewal is not complete, the registrant firm’s practice will be prohibited in accordance with Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s Bylaws and cancelled by September 1.



Spring 2024


Thinking about retirement?

It’s time to make your money work for you Retirement is finally approaching… now what? The Engineers Canada-sponsored Financial Security Program offers a registered retirement income fund (RRIF) and life income fund (LIF) that turns your hard-earned savings into a steady stream of income for your retirement years. You’ll also continue to enjoy the advantages you’re already used to with your group plan – such as lower-than-retail fees*, certified Canada Life support and continued access to the Canada Life website and statements.

Speak with Lindsay Laguerre, your investment and retirement consultant, to see if the program is right for you. She’ll help you understand your income options, give you a detailed income estimate and build a plan with you. Committed to helping you enjoy the retirement you deserve

1-866-788-1293 ext. 5788

Learn more about the Engineers Canada RRIF and LIF

The Engineers Canada-sponsored Financial Security Program is exclusive to engineers, geoscientists, students, and their families, across Canada.

A plan built just for you.

*Lower investment management fees, when compared to typical individual RRIFs and LIFs.

Canada Life and design, and For Life As You Know It, are trademarks of The Canada Life Assurance Company.

Innovation Spring 2024 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2023

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Engineers and Geoscientists BC is seeking presenters—industry experts, thought-leaders, innovators, technology experts, and professional speakers—for its Continuing Education (CE) program for the 2024 Annual Conference. Engineers and Geoscientists BC Annual Conference is the premier event for engineers, geoscientists, technologies, academia, government representatives, industry leaders and other members of the community across BC and beyond. Presenters can also network and engage with potential future clients and expand their business portfolio. The 2024 conference will be held on October 16-18, 2024, in a hybrid format—virtually and in person—at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Submit your proposal before the March 15, 2024, deadline for the opportunity to share your research, experiences, and best practices with the professional community. The CE sessions at this year’s conference will focus on four core learning areas: technical, ethical, regulatory, and communications and leadership. These topics are in alignment with CE Program requirements. Presentations are one hour, including time for questions and answers. Presentations should be educational and tailored to registrants. Presentations that promote or sell specific products, services, or providers will not be considered. Proposal requirements are available on Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s website: Seeking presenters for 2024 Annual Conference

Nominations open for national fellowships Nominations are now open for Engineers Canada and Geoscientists Canada fellowships. Fellowships honour individuals who have provided significant service or have served as a volunteer for the engineering or geoscience professions for at least 10 years. Applicable activities include board or committee service with Engineers Canada or Geoscientists Canada, or volunteer work for provincial organizations. Nominations for these fellowships must come from Engineers Canada, Geoscientists Canada or one of their provincial or territorial regulators. Fellowship submissions must be received by Friday, April 5, 2024. For more information on the criteria and how to nominate someone, visit our Awards webpage ( ). To view lists of those who have already received fellowships, visit or .

Our IP lawyers are here to help you build the future. Conference/2024-Annual-Conference . Proposals must be submitted by March 15, 2024. For more information, please email .


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Spring 2024


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Innovation Spring 2024 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2023

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Recently published professional practice guidelines and advisories Practice Advisory: Considerations for the Integrated Systems Testing of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems (CAN/ULC-S1001) This advisory describes expectations and obligations of professional practice related to integrated systems testing of fire protection and life safety systems for new and existing buildings. This advisory is intended to provide guidance to engineering professionals on meeting the requirements of the applicable building code, applicable fire code, and the Standard for Integrated Systems Testing of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems (CAN/ULC-S1001), and to clarify related responsibilities. Revised Practice Advisory: Issued for Building Permit Documents This practice advisory was revised in December 2023 to address changes to the Letters of Assurance in the BC Building Code 2024 (BCBC) , which introduces the requirement for confirmation of independent review of structural designs in the Letters of Assurance. Introducing this requirement is intended to increase the safety of structural building design in BC and decrease the likelihood of permitting delays due to errors or omissions in building permit applications. Practice Advisories in Development Practice Advisory: Geochemical Characterization of Mine Waste This practice advisory identifies methods for establishing site- and material-specific criteria for potentially acid-generating and metal-leaching mine waste materials. It also discusses considerations for developing plans for operational management, handling, storage procedures and monitoring programs of mine wastes. For more information, please contact Alice Kruchten at . Practice Advisory: Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Professional Practice This practice advisory provides guidance on the appropriate use of artificial intelligence (AI) in professional practice. It discusses considerations for professional registrants when using or incorporating AI in engineering and geoscience activities or work, how to meet the quality management requirements when using AI, and other considerations. For more information, please contact .

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Spring 2024


Professional practice inquiries

What are the key changes in the revised practice advisory Issued for Building Permits Documents?

The practice advisory Issued for Building Permit Documents was revised in December 2023 to address changes to the Letters of Assurance (LOA) in the BC Building Code 2024 (BCBC) , which introduces the requirement for confirmation of independent review of structural designs in the LOA. The practice advisory was originally published in 2020 to inform registrants of the standard of practice regarding the completeness of authenticated plans and supporting documents from an Engineer of Record (EOR) for building permit applications. The original advisory was published based on results of a disciplinary decision issued to an engineering professional who demonstrated unprofessional conduct by submitting materially incomplete structural plans to “get into the queue” for a building permit application, thereby exposing multiple parties to various risks. The revised practice advisory sets the standard of practice for an EOR submitting engineering plans to an Authority Having Jurisdiction, and outlines the expectation for completeness of engineering plans submitted for permitting purposes. Complete plans require that an independent review of structural designs be conducted, which has been an in-force, quality-management requirement of Engineers and Geoscientists BC since 1992. In addition to completeness and complying with applicable BC building codes, engineering plans must contain sufficient detail to enable designs to be checked by another engineering professional, and must be appropriately checked and have undergone

an independent review as outlined in the quality management guide called Guide to the Standard for Documented Independent Review of Structural Designs . Through complaints, investigations, and discipline cases, Engineers and Geoscientists BC became aware that some independent reviews of structural designs were not being conducted, or not conducted at the appropriate time. When feedback was provided by the independent reviewer, it was either inadequate or had not been appropriately addressed by the EOR. As a result, at the recommendation of Engineers and Geoscientists BC and the Architectural Institute of BC, line 2.5 (Independent review of structural designs) was added to the BCBC 2024 LOA. LOAs are legal accountability documents signed by individual coordinating registered professionals and registered professionals of record that are required under the BCBC and are intended to identify the responsibilities of key participants in building projects. Having the independent review completed before the plans are submitted for a building permit application is expected to decrease the likelihood of permitting delays due to errors or omissions in the plans. Introducing the requirement for confirmation of independent review of structural designs in LOAs is one step towards increasing the safety of structural building design in BC.

For related professional practice inquiries, please contact . Kendra Zammit, MSc., P.Geo. Practice Advisor

Upcoming professional practice webinars

Application of Artificial Intelligence in Mine Wastewater Treatment: Thursday, March 21, 2024.

Innovation Spring 2024



An international reconnaissance team went to study the aftermath of Türkiye’s February 2023 earthquakes to better understand and prepare for a significant earthquake closer to home. DAVID WYLIE


Spring 2024


W hen Allison Chen visited devastated regions of Türkiye on a reconnaissance mission months after powerful earthquakes, she was astounded by the utter emptiness of once-bustling cities. “Almost everything’s abandoned,” says Chen, P.Eng., P.E. “It’s just wild to see so many abandoned buildings and empty streets. Some of the places are real ghost towns without even tent or container cities nearby. There are so few people. It’s really like flattening the whole of downtown Vancouver and starting again, which is really emotional to see.” Chen, a practice advisor at Engineers and Geoscientists BC, visited southern Türkiye in June 2023 on a trip organized by UBC professors, Dr. Tony Yang, P.Eng., and Dr. Carlos Ventura, P.Eng. The diverse team—made up of seismic and structural experts from Canada, Türkiye, Taiwan, Guatemala, Serbia, Iran, Nepal, Syria, and Italy—saw first-hand how major earthquakes impacted the region and how officials handled the response and recovery efforts. On Feb. 6, 2023, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, with an epicentre located about 850 kilometers southeast of Istanbul, struck at 4:17 a.m. while many locals slept. A second magnitude 7.5 earthquake hit about nine hours later about 100 kilometres north of the first, as people searched for their loved ones. Two weeks later, on Feb. 20, a third magnitude 6.4 quake struck southwest. During the two months following the first main shock, there were more than 35,000 aftershocks along the fault lines. About 500 of them were magnitudes four and five, which is strong enough to be felt. “I can’t imagine being displaced from your home—maybe having lost family members, friends, or all of your possessions—and feeling another shock and not knowing what was going to happen, how big it was going to be, what kind of effects it would have,” says Chen. “Just beyond terrifying. That fear existed four months later when we were there.”


Heavily damaged and abandoned buildings, collapsed buildings and rubble are seen down a narrow road towards Hatay’s city centre. Photo: Allison Chen

Innovation Spring 2024



‘Nothing can teach you like the real thing’ Those living in the region are no strangers to earthquakes; large earthquakes occur about every 20 years. However, even for an earthquake-prone area, the 2023 disaster was significant in its scope and destruction. More than 50,000 people were killed and 3.3 million people were displaced, with nearly two million sheltered in tent camps and container settlements. “These tragedies are very real, and it’s important to remember that while using them as lessons and inspirations to bring home and try to do better and try to save lives in the future that weren’t able to be saved in the last one. Nothing can teach you like the real thing,” says Chen. The reconnaissance mission studied response and recovery, as well as codes and standards, as they might be relevant in BC. The team spent long days on the bus—up at 6 a.m. and returning at 11 p.m.—as they went up and down the fault lines, visiting communities to meet with government officials, engineers, and others whom they could glean insights from. They saw the geotechnical effects of major earthquakes up close and collected data, such as ambient vibrations of select buildings and infrastructure. Many buildings not to code After the deadly 1999 earthquake in Türkiye, the country’s building code was updated to require deformed rebar, better ductile detailing, and more shear walls or large columns in new buildings. But after the 2023 earthquakes, it was widely reported many new buildings hadn’t adhered to the code.

This Roman Catholic Church in Iskenderun was one of many collapsed churches and historical sites in Turkiye. Photo: Allison Chen


Spring 2024


LEFT: Allison Chen stands by one of the 517 base isolators (double friction pendulum system) in the basement of the 900-bed Osmaniye State Hospital. Photo: Dr. Jeffrey Salmon. RIGHT: Team members, from left, Dr. Alemdar Bayraktar, Dr. Bishnu Pandey, P.Eng., and Dr. Tony Yang, P.Eng., stand on a slope next to Golbasi Lake where there was significant vertical and horizontal ground displacement due to lateral earth spreading, caused by liquefaction. Photo: Allison Chen

Chen explains there were many factors that led to poor building performance, including older construction, type of construction, poor material quality, no field review requirement by design engineers, ground conditions, and post-and-beam construction that was completed in a way that’s vulnerable to collapse. The Türkish government reported that more than 50 percent of the buildings affected were constructed after the updated building code, according to the Türkiye Earthquakes Recovery and Reconstruction Assessment . Nearly 520,000 houses totally collapsed or required immediate demolition, while 131,000 were

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Innovation Spring 2024




Many container sites were built following the earthquakes, such as this one in Hatay, to house displaced people. Photo: Allison Chen.

Rebuilding is the best option The location of redevelopment varies in Türkiye. Some communities are being rebuilt in place, which takes time as buildings need to be demolished, rubble removed, and reconstruction started. In other places, the redevelopment is happening a few kilometers away. Chen says in Turkish communities with extensive damage, the preference seems to be to rebuild. “With so many damaged and collapsed buildings and communities, it makes sense to start again instead of trying to keep a few sporadically throughout.” Chen, a structural engineer, says the trip opened her eyes to what earthquakes can do and the importance of designing for more than “life safety”—which is how we design most buildings. It means that occupants can safely exit a building after the design earthquake, but the buildings can’t be occupiable until they’re remediated or retrofitted. “This trip has left me inspired and driven to do everything I can within our regulatory mandate and within my network to protect the public relating to seismic preparedness, response, and recovery,” says Chen.

moderately damaged, and 1.3 million were lightly damaged. There was about $76.6 billion in residential loses. Rubble and debris were still scattered everywhere, which was a shocking sight, says Chen. “Schools and hospitals were not exempt from the damage, though far fewer of them were damaged. Most of them fared really well,” she says, adding only 17 percent of schools collapsed or were severely damaged. “Overall, the public infrastructure in Türkiye did very, very well because it’s all designed for post-disaster performance levels or performance based to mean that it will still be functional after the earthquake. Overpasses and bridges did very well. I think two or three were damaged overall, and only a couple dams were damaged as well.” Hundreds of thousands in tents, containers Türkiye did an incredible job responding to the earthquake and immediately started the recovery effort, says Chen. Part of that work involved wide scale rapid damage assessments. That can happen quickly when thousands of volunteers are mobilized right away from all over the country. (In BC, BC Housing

offers a Rapid Damage Assessment course, developed with support from Engineers and Geoscientists BC and others, for conducting building assessments after an earthquake, flood, or windstorm.) Still, even when Turkish residents were given the okay to go home, many chose to continue living in tents and containers. People remain terrified to go inside the buildings. By May, there were 350 tent cities and more than 800,000 tents. And by September, there were 350 container cities and 187,000 containers, each one about 200-square feet and housing up to six people. “Pretty tight spaces for prolonged periods of time,” says Chen, comparing the containers to housing built in Vancouver for athletes in the 2010 Winter Olympics—a lot of repetitive designs to meet a tight deadline and the immediate needs of a large population. A big lesson learned, adds Chen, is to have the sites and the designs ready to go, so construction can begin within a month of the first main shock. No one wants a six- or 12-month waiting period to see where new housing will go and what it will look like. It needs to start right away, she says.


Spring 2024


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Innovation Spring 2024



Is BC ready for the ‘big one?’

A partially collapsed building in Hatay stands beside piles of rubble where other buildings once stood. Photo: Allison Chen

U nderstanding how other countries in seismic zones address earthquake preparedness helps BC better prepare for a significant earthquake—and the smaller ones. People living in Türkiye are familiar with the damage earthquakes can inflict; on average, significant earthquakes strike every 20 years. In BC, the last substantive earthquake of magnitude 8.1, was in 1949 along the fault by Haida Gwaii. So, without recent experience with an earthquake, gathering information from around the world is an important means to assess how to mitigate, prepare, respond, and recover. The Canadian members of the reconnaissance team that went to Türkiye in June 2023, focused on gleaning information from the February 6, 2023, earthquake and its after-shocks that would be valuable closer to home. In BC, “up to 3,000 quakes are reported every year,” said team member Dr. Tony Yang, P.Eng., a civil engineering professor at UBC, “and we face the potential threat of a megathrust quake that’s often called the ‘Big One,’ which could occur offshore along the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate. Our journey to Türkiye gave us a deeper understanding of these events.”

Japan at the forefront of preparedness When considering earthquake preparedness in building construction, the primary concern is to ensure life safety—that all people inside a building can exit safely. Japan, also in a high seismic zone and prone to frequent sizeable earthquakes, is recognized for its preparedness. This includes strict building codes focussing on building resilience, according to the Global Disaster Preparedness Centre. In 1981, Japan’s building standard laws were amended to ensure buildings, not just public buildings such as schools and hospitals, are constructed to sustain a magnitude 7 earthquake with only minor damage and still function. For larger earthquakes, the building code specifies minimally no building should collapse. In enforcing that buildings must remain structurally sound, fewer lives are lost, as well. Japanese builders use techniques, such as “installing pads made of absorbent material like rubber at the base of a building’s foundation, dampening the shock of movement to the structure itself. Another approach, the base isolation system, calls for not just having these pads at the base, but building the entire structure atop thick padding so that there is a full layer of separation between the unit and the moving earth,” according to the Global Disaster Preparedness Centre.


Spring 2024


Turkish infrastructures were protected using the base isolation system. Similar to Canada, Türkiye’s building code drills down to precise house addresses for building impact requirements, rather than by zone. “They also have performance objectives like we do in Canada. We want to make sure the buildings do not collapse—collapse prevention, immediate occupancy and life-safety performance objective.” Türkiye’s 2007 building code update included a chapter on assessment and retrofit for existing buildings, which Canada’s National Building Code does not have, said Yang. Canada’s code only addresses new structure requirements. Another difference is that Türkiye’s code addresses performance levels for multi-level shaking intensity earthquakes while Canada only focuses on two levels, designing for the maximum credible earthquake. The idea in Türkiye, explains Yang, is that buildings need to be

In the Türkiye delegation’s report, an elder from a small village was quoted saying, “in Japan, people run into buildings during an earthquake because they are safe, but in Türkiye, people run out of them during an earthquake.” When Japan experienced a 7.6 magnitude earthquake on January 1, 2024, an estimated 240 people died in the earthquake and related tsunami. Türkiye’s February 6, 2023, 7.8 magnitude earthquake and the aftershocks took 50,783 lives. Are we ready? Canada’s National Building Code is similar to Türkiye’s building code in many ways, explained Yang, in a post-trip earthquake insights seminar, October 13, 2023. Türkiye’s building code, most recently updated in 2018, is really robust, he said. “I am very proud of my Turkish colleagues,” he said. “They are not afraid of using novel technology such as base isolation dampers. All hospitals in high-seismic zones are required to be base-isolated.” Over 72 major

Innovation Spring 2024



“It’s based on the most current science and aims to raise the bar for a higher level of performance in certain buildings in the high seismic hazard areas of Canada.” Why buildings failed in earthquake Many buildings built to the 2018 code performed well in the Türkiye earthquake, team member Dr. Svetlana Brzev, P.Eng., UBC adjunct professor, said. It’s when the builders veered off the code that more damage occurred. A common reason for building damage was because the builders—not the designers—did not use adequate cross-ties, as specified in the code. Another issue was poor quality masonry materials for infill construction. Brzev noted buildings also sustained damage due to soft-storey collapse. In buildings with an open ground floor without infill walls, during the earthquake, the bottom floor collapsed. Buildings experienced extensive non-structural damage, as well, with collapsed masonry infills and partitions, and had to be vacated and replaced. Brzev said Canada should pay attention to non-structural damage as well, noting the example of building overhangs that have all non-structural walls without any concrete connecting elements. Response and rebuilding The magnitude of the re-building can impact lives for several years. As Engineers and Geoscientists BC practice advisor and team member, Allison Chen, P.Eng., P.E., explained, re-building is on a massive scale, rather than one structure at a time. The recovery process may take three to five years—longer for remote areas—before an area may be considered “back to normal.” Said Chen, “Before construction can start, you first need to demolish and remove rubble. Where does it go? Where do the new villages or cities get built? Should it be on the same site as existing or a new location? Where do you find clear land in a metropolis?” From her observations, Chen said, designing beyond life safety is a critical step for recovery as well. “This may not seem like a big deal but when every—or most or many—buildings in an area are damaged, this can be an incredibly long prioritization, design, and construction process and, in the meantime, there is a lasting humanitarian crisis where thousands of people are in need of immediate shelter.”

designed to withstand the smaller intensity earthquakes that come more often, as well as the big ones. BC Building Code updates BC is recognizing the need to address the smaller intensity earthquakes, as well. Updates to BC Building Codes 2024 (BCBC) include seismic provisions that are in line with the National Building Code . John Sherstobitoff, P.Eng., chaired the task group within the Standing Committee on Earthquake Design that prepared the latest provisions for the National Building Code . He said it’s important to be aware that current seismicity requirements for design have increased and new provisions have been included for lower-level earthquakes. “The goal is for certain types of buildings like schools and hospitals to be able to withstand a lower-level earthquake without the need to repair the structural components after an event,” said Sherstobitoff, principal, seismic and structures, at Ausenco Engineering in Vancouver.


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