Not only is Vancouver city hall and its east wing at risk of collapsing in a magnitude 6 earthquake, but a December 2010 study by an engineering firm found the city’s data is in danger.
A portion of the heavily censored report, obtained via Freedom of Information and created by engineering firm Ausenco Sandwell, said the city has four data centres, but the one in city hall’s basement is considered “the heart of traffic management, control of the city and the main home of the data available to City of Vancouver staff.”
The mainframe computer room is ventilated and equipment seismically restrained, but Ausenco Sandwell said: “Most of the equipment, within the data centre, is vulnerable to dust, heat and vibration.”
The report said to relocate the equipment to another floor or building would require 1,200 square feet. The cost of building a redundant system would be $1.5 million. Sudden damage to the data centre could disrupt city services and harm operations. Costs of emergency repairs, replacement and relocation are “difficult to quantify and can be considerable.”
“It is understood that the city may establish a prime data centre at (the E-Comm emergency communications centre) in 2011, with city hall to remain as a backup site,” the report said.
The Courier sought an interview with Garrick Bradshaw, the city’s manager of facilities design and management, but was referred to deputy city manager Sadhu Johnston. Johnston was vague when asked about how whether the prime data centre has been shifted from city hall to E-Comm on the East Side.
“We do store data at E-Comm, there's still data storage at city hall, but there is data storage off-site as well,” Johnston said. “I don't want to get into the details. We have certainly taken the lessons from those recommendations and have pursued diversifying our data centre and storage needs.”
The Ausenco Sandwell report also said city hall and its occupants are at risk of broken hot water lines in the event of an earthquake.
“Neither the equipment in the boiler room nor the suspended pipes/ducts are seismically restrained,” the report said.
The city spent $2.9 million, including $966,700 from the federal infrastructure stimulus, on upgrading city hall’s exterior. The city’s draft capital plan contemplates $2 million for seismic upgrades to the city hall precinct and $250,000 for waterworks.
The overall costs for reinforcing city hall, the east wing and the 515 West 10th Ave. office building are secret. The city¹s Freedom of Information office deemed the estimates contained in The Iredale Partnership city hall precinct assessment out-of-scope.
Whatever the costs were, a footnote said they would have included 15 per cent for demolition and cleanup of services and finishes, 10 per cent contractor markup and a 25 per cent contingency.
Iredale was contracted in May 2000, according to the same council report that declared the Central Library as city hall’s backup site in case of disaster.