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Climate Change Adaptation and Flood Management in Metro Vancouver Regional Area: Can an Exercise in Herding Cats be Successful?

Original scientific paper

Journal of Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems
Volume 5, Issue 2, June 2017, pp 273-288
DOI: https://doi.org/10.13044/j.sdewes.d5.0149
Lilia Yumagulova1 , Ilan Vertinsky2
1 School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia, 293-2357 Main Mall, Vancouver, Canada
2 The Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, 2053 Main Mall, Vancouver, Canada


Climate change poses novel challenges for cities, threatening long-term sustainability objectives and necessitating investments in resilience. Climate change exacerbates the challenge of identifying the range of impacts of natural hazards in terms of scale and frequency. This study focuses on climate change adaptation responses with regard to flood management in the Metro Vancouver regional area, which is the last large non-amalgamated region in Canada. It is comprised of 24 local authorities and a regional government with delegated and distributed authority for flood management and other responsibilities. The area is subject to river flooding, intense rain storms and an increasing rate of sea level rise. The study identifies mechanisms by which the municipalities make sense of the existing hazards as well as how they design and invest into responses for future risks under conditions of uncertainty. Given the geographic, demographic and socio-economic differences across municipalities in the region, the study found a diverse set of responses in planning regimes in regard to the long-term risks as well as the short-term political pressures that municipalities face. This resulted in a significant variability of planning policies and practices across the region, which could potentially reduce overall regional ability to adapt to change. The paper concludes with a discussion of measures that can be taken to strengthen the regional coordination process.


Keywords: Climate change, Adaptation, Regional planning, Networks, Coordination.

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