Well, it was a 7.4 (or 7.2, depending on the news source) earthquake. Not completely catostrophic but enough to cause a good amount of damage. Thank goodness there were no deaths. Modern buildings and infrastructure in Vancouver are designed to withstand earthquakes of up to an 8.0 magnitude. I wouldn't want to be in an earthquake above 8.0 even if infrastructure was designed to a higher magnitude earthquake.
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Modern buildings and infrastructure in Vancouver are designed to withstand earthquakes of up to an 8.0 magnitude. I wouldn't want to be in an earthquake above 8.0 even if infrastructure was designed to a higher magnitude earthquake.
I wouldn't be so confident about the building standards in Vancouver or other cities in BC being up to even minimal standards. I know that we still have quite a few schools that are waiting for seismic upgrades. (Yes, I know the Olympic party was more important ) There are many, many buildings, including multi-story ones and old brick buildings (Yaletown, Gastown) that were built long before anyone even thought about implementing seismic building codes and as far as I know, aren't required to be brought up to current standards.
Where I'm sitting as I type this, Granville Island, is built on top of a sandbar in False Creek that is covered with old landfill. Much of the fill is construction debris from the early 1900s when a lot of Vancouver's West Side was being built. There were no standards for putting in landfill in those days, just dump it. In any quake, like the 7 in NZ or an 8.0, or the 9.0 that's one day expected in the region, the ground here will shake much more than anything else around because of the unstable fill. I expect that GI will get pretty much flattened in anything approaching an 8.0. Richmond is in a similar boat, being on reclaimed wetland, although I understand that the taller buildings there, which are mostly recent, are anchored down to the bedrock.
The 8.8 that slammed Chile this year and moved the Earth's axis tested their infrastructure. It was probably in much better shape than Vancouver's due to the region having previously experienced the world's record quake at 9.5 in 1960 and people there knowing enough to be ready. Here in Vancouver, I think we're mostly blissfully ignorant because the city is so new and has never had any large quake hit it in its history. I've only ever felt minor shaking on two occasions here in BC. I was in the San Francisco area when the '89 quake hit, so I know what a big quake feels like.