People from Ontario often move to BC to go to school, work, or retire. How would the threat of an earthquake or tsunami affect people's decisions if they or their family were thinking of moving there?

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kipling2448's profile pic

kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The threat to coastal regions along the Pacific Rim is entirely real and very serious, but often ignored by millions of people who ignore or accept that risk because they want to live in such regions. The oceans, seas and lakes of the world have a pull on humanity that defies easy comprehension. Almost half of the world's population resides within 100 kilometers of a coast because of the commercial attributes of such areas and because of the attractiveness of waterfront property. Such considerations have been a fact of life for thousands of years, and there is little reason to expect that to change.

Canadians who gravitate toward British Columbia from other areas, including Ontario, do so for a number of reasons, including employment opportunities and the natural beauty that British Columbia offers. The risk of disruption or death from earthquakes and tsunamis is insufficient to dissuade many from relocating to a region as attractive as British Columbia. Even those who understand that a catastrophic event is inevitable -- and a major earthquake, with the potential for a tsunami, is a near certainty within the next 50 years -- sublimate that threat for the short-term benefits of moving to areas like British Columbia and San Francisco in California. Part of that phenomenon is psychological. People who seriously desire to live in a certain location will subconsciously or consciously ignore the dangers such a transfer entails. They believe that the chances of a catastrophic natural disaster are too abstract to be a determinant in their life choices. Others know that a disaster will likely strike, but move to such regions anyway because the material benefits are too attractive to refuse, such as the salary of a new job, or the amount of land they can own. 

Some Canadians will refuse to relocate to British Columbia because of the risk of a natural disaster. That risk, however, is perceived by many as too remote to serve as a deterrent. Just as many Americans refuse to leave beautiful communities on the San Andreas fault, many Canadians refuse to avoid British Columbia solely because of the fear of an earthquake.

misstemple1261's profile pic

misstemple1261 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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Though the threat of an earthquake or tsunami might impact a person's decision to move from Ontario to BC, it's difficult to determine, given recent patterns of migration, whether or not the threat of natural disaster would be enough to completely discourage a move.

When answering this question, think about the differences between moving to a new place for school or a job versus moving for retirement. 

People often need to move to a specific city for a high-paying job or a good school, but can choose between multiple places for retirement, since retirees are most often looking for a fun, relaxing city--and there are plenty of those out there! In contrast, someone looking for work might not have a lot of choices, and therefore is forced to weigh the benefits of a safe city with few job prospects, or a slightly dangerous city with good work opportunities.

In a bad economy, workers might have to choose between two dangerous options, and often pick the second. 

Natural disasters are a rare, once-in-a-lifetime event and are extremely dangerous.

Living without a job with decent pay is an everyday problem that is also extremely dangerous.

For example, Seattle was the fastest growing American city in 2014, yet its citizens are vulnerable to rising water levels on the coast, potential volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. However, high-paying jobs in the tech industry and an overall high quality of life are enough to convince newcomers that the risks are worth it. The same can be said of Dallas, Texas; though vulnerable to tornados, it's seen huge population growth in the past few years due to its booming oil economy.  

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