Vancouver Island’s north west coast has several long inlets, and emergency planners want to know whether they’ll amplify or dissipate a tsunami. (SRD Image)

Vancouver Island’s north west coast has several long inlets, and emergency planners want to know whether they’ll amplify or dissipate a tsunami. (SRD Image)

Tsunami awareness survey for northwest Vancouver Island underway

Emergency planners want to know what you know about the tsunami risk

Not knowing exactly what a tsunami would do to the North Island keeps Shaun Koopman up at night.

Is the 20-metre water-rise in 20 minutes rule of thumb good enough? Do surfers at Raft Cove know the warning signs? How will people in Winter Harbour be warned about an incoming wave? Some inlets around the world have been known to amplify tsunamis, while others dissipate the waves. Which will it be in the Holberg Inlet or Quatsino Sound?

There are too many unknowns for an effective emergency management plan, which is why last year a group of First Nations, regional planners, and a philanthropist decided to do a full study.

They’re partway through the project, and are currently asking for all the community input they can get. Koopman, an emergency planner for the Strathcona Regional District, is surveying residents and visitors to the northwest coast. He’s asking what they do or don’t know about tsunami preparedness. Do they even know tsunamis are a risk?

“You cannot go around Tofino and not be aware of the tsunami risk,” he said, referring to their glut of signage. “Whereas, compare that to Grant Bay. If there was a tsunami from Alaska, how would you know if that tsunami was coming? Your phone doesn’t work out there, there are no maps, we don’t know how high to tell people to go.”

The most expensive aspect is the lidar modeling that will help predict where the water will go. Last year, planes flew overhead, beaming lasers down to the raggedy coast, while catamarans carefully edged in and out of every nook and cranny.

The data collected is being fed to a super computer to develop a spacial model to predict what a tsunami, whether from Alaska or Cascadia, will do.

Even that level of data, meticulous, detailed information about the shape of the coastline, is not enough. Koopman wants to incorporate local knowledge from the 1964 tsunami, and from First Nations who know of the tsunami in 1700. A documentary is being planned, along with a ‘waves of knowledge’ school program to teach students about tsunami mapping.

Fill out the survey online:, or request a mailed copy. The deadline is Feb. 26.

Initial funding from a provincial flood mapping grant was coordinated between the Strathcona Regional District and the Kyuquot/Checleseht First Nations and Nuchatlaht First Nation, whose territory is on the remote west coast.

Then a donor called Koopman and asked what he’d do with an other half a million dollars. The donor liked Koopman’s answer and sent the money, allowing for a second round of lidar mapping, which will start this spring to cover the rest of the northwest coast.

READ MORE: Vancouver Island First Nations, regional district to roll out tsunami mapping project

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:

Emergency PreparednessTsunami

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A beautiful sunny afternoon showcasing Mount Cain in all its glory. (Kimberley Kufaas Photography)
Mount Cain to start construction on new lodge once season ends

The North Island ski hill has been awarded $874,000 to build a brand new lodge.

The U’mista Cultural Society is getting $294,000 in funding. (North Island Gazette file photo)
North Island gets infrastructure and jobs boost from Economic Recovery Plan

“I’m thrilled that so many North Island organizations are benefiting from this funding”

Gordie Wigman and Edward Cote won $55,425.85 from the draw on Dec. 28. (BCLC photo)
Port McNeill friends win over 55 grand

Wigman and Cote purchased the ticket from the Port McNeill Petro Canada on Mine Road.

OrcaFest parade 2019. (North Island Gazette file photo)
COVID-19: Port McNeill’s annual OrcaFest cancelled again

“We promise you that once we are safely able to do so, OrcaFest will be back!!”

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Most Read