UBC Graduate Research

An Evaluation of Climate Adaptation Planning in Practice: A Case Study of the District of Elkford, BC Shah, Timothy


The planning profession has an indispensable role to play in helping communities adapt to climate change. This report describes how various professionals have recognized the salience of climate change adaptation and have prepared guidelines, suggestions, and best practices on how a jurisdiction should go about adapting to the desired condition. This study reviews the literature on climate change adaptation and in particular, relevant guidelines that have been created to assist communities through these complex processes. The author synthesizes these guidelines into a set of common fundamental objectives that are used to analyze the District of Elkford, British Columbia, the case study of this project and the first community in the province to integrate climate adaptation into its official community plan (OCP). After reviewing publicly available documents on Elkford, and interviewing individuals involved in Elkford's adaptation planning process, the author found the following results: • Communicating about the risks associated with climate change is of utmost importance when doing adaptation planning with smaller communities. • Engaging a representative and diverse group of stakeholders can assist decision-making and offer the public an avenue to voice their concerns. • There are many constraints in place to do climate adaptation planning and implementation of action items. This may include rigid and inflexible design standards and bylaws that prevent a community from becoming more resilient. Reforming these standards to account for uncertainty could be a cost-effective strategy in light of a changing climate. • Evaluating the costs and benefits of adaptation options is a challenging proposition given the high uncertainties. However, simple financial analyses comparing adaptation alternatives can be done, and could be presented to the public to boost capacity for action. The author includes a series of recommendations at the end of the report for consideration by the District of Elkford and for BC Provincial Ministries. The conclusion summarizes some major lessons learned, and highlights opportunities for further research on this topic

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