Vancouver is a young and growing city in a land rich in cultural heritage.
The City of Vancouver is just one of 21 municipalities, one Treaty First Nation and one Electoral Area that make up Metro Vancouver, all of which benefit from regionally coordinated services and infrastructure. Recognized around the world as a progressive city committed to social, environmental and economic sustainability, Vancouver is home to an expanding and diverse population, unparalleled natural beauty, a vibrant creative sector and Canada’s fastest growing economy.
Amidst these strengths and assets, Vancouver faces many complex and interconnected challenges that impact the resilience of our residents, neighbourhoods, businesses and urban systems. The threats of catastrophic earthquakes and sea level rise are compounded by the wildfire smoke and extreme weather that have become our “new normal,” and which continue to disproportionately impact people that experience social isolation, chronic health issues, poverty and other barriers. Social and economic inequities, unaffordable housing and cycles of mental health and addiction crises undermine the well-being of all our residents, and the capacity of the City and local organizations to plan proactively and recover from disruptions.
Fostering resilience and finding local solutions to these shocks and stresses requires us to take a holistic and inclusive approach the drivers of risk in our community and anticipate future trends. It demands collaboration and creativity, so that our social and physical infrastructure can continue to serve our community in a rapidly changing future. The Resilient Vancouver strategy puts forth a set of transformative policies, partnerships and investments, aimed at enhancing the capacity of our neighbourhoods, our government and our buildings and infrastructure, to serve our diverse communities today and to prepare for an uncertain future.
Here on the traditional and unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, resilience is not new. It is a concept that has been embedded in the laws and culture of the Indigenous Peoples that have been stewards of this land since time immemorial. Like our forebearers, we must be forward thinking and adaptive to thrive in an era of rapid change. Supported by strong partnerships and cross-departmental collaboration, Vancouver is well-positioned to rise to this challenge and embed resilience into the fabric of our city. Through a collaborative and human-centred approach, and by leveraging the creativity and experience of our community and our partners, we can invest in the health, well-being and affordability of our community today, while actively reducing risk for future generations.
Neighbourhoods are at the intersection of social and economic life, where shocks and stresses play out in the lives of our residents.
In Vancouver, the strength and flexibility of our social fabric are critical to everyday support for residents and businesses, and essential for the healing and recovery of our city when faced with disasters.
When disaster strikes, our communities will need to rely on each other, yet too many residents report a lack of understanding of how to help themselves, much less their neighbours. Community organizations and residents articulated an urgent need for emergency planning and preparedness information and tools at the local level.
By listening to community, we heard that resilience includes being prepared for emergencies, but that it starts with strengthening relationships and empathy among diverse neighbours, sharing knowledge and ideas, contributing to problem solving and caring for local spaces.
The four objectives supporting this priority recognize the foundational role of community relationships and connections, the importance of robust cultural and social infrastructure and the need to leverage local knowledge and creativity to prepare for and recover from shocks and stresses. Resilience in our neighbourhoods is enhanced by ongoing work through Vancouver’s Healthy City Strategy, and the Resilient Neighbourhoods Program which has driven community-based resilience building over the last two years.
- Cultivate community connections, stewardship and pride
- Empower communities to support each other during crises and recover after disasters
- Transform the way communities understand risk and prepare for local hazards
- Strengthen social and cultural services and assets
The magnitude of the challenges faced by Vancouver exceeds what any one entity or group can solve alone.
Thriving in a rapidly changing future requires the collaboration and commitment of people and groups as diverse and complex as the city itself.
By engaging meaningfully with communities and facilitating external partnerships, Vancouver can learn from the knowledge and experience of local stakeholders and global cities. We can share and invest in new technologies and research, embed resilience into our planning processes and adapt City systems to serve our community more equitably. Through a spirit of reciprocity, learning and innovation, the objectives and actions in this section promote reflection, foresight and partnerships to collectively imagine and strategically create a resilient city for all.
The four objectives supporting this priority work together to strengthen our social fabric and co-create city systems so that outcomes work for more people, and to bolster a stable government which works to proactively reduce risk for current and future generations.
- Elevate the voices of underrepresented groups to improve resilience outcomes
- Shape an inclusive city that can adapt to changes and turn challenges into opportunities
- Strengthen organizational capacity to manage risk and recover from shocks and stresses
- Advance holistic, collaborative disaster risk reduction and recovery planning
The natural and built environments are inextricably linked to the well-being of residents and the economy.
From earthquakes to climate breakdown, Vancouver’s buildings and infrastructure, and the essential services they provide, face multiple evolving pressures and must transform to serve the changing needs of the community. The regional and interconnected nature of our infrastructure systems, not to mention the cost of failure, means that we have a vested interest in working with external partners and ensuring local redundancies in the event of disasters.
With respect to major disasters, the failure of buildings and infrastructure threatens lives, housing supply, affordability and the national economy. There are limited regulatory options currently available to make existing buildings safer or minimize the threat of displacement, but we now have the information we need to create targeted and effective policy. Vancouver must contribute to, and advocate for, the support and investment required to ensure that our buildings and infrastructure can provide safe, reliable services to residents and businesses today and under changing future conditions.
Through the application of systems thinking, and the use of new technologies and innovative policy, the objectives and actions under this priority are targeted at actively reducing risk to critical infrastructure, buildings and services, while supporting the well-being of residents today and in the future.
- Improve building performance to protect lives, decrease displacement and accelerate recovery following earthquakes
- Plan, design and upgrade civic facilities to serve the current and future needs of our diverse communities and everchanging environmental conditions
- Anticipate threats and mitigate and minimize disruption to civic infrastructure and critical services
- Promote regional collaboration to assess, finance and fortify lifeline infrastructure and supply chains