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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Towards urban and regional resilience : a case study of Metro Vancouver region, Canada Yumagulova, Lilia


Climate change necessitates investments in urban and regional resilience to address existing and novel risks. Drawing on disaster resilience, socio-ecological resilience, planning, and institutional adaptation literatures, I investigate the relationship between the institutional capacity to deal with floods (specific resilience, sp-R) and the overall ability to deal with change (general resilience, gen-R). I make a theoretical and empirical contribution by operationalizing the interdisciplinary sp-R–gen-R framework and testing it in Canada’s Metro Vancouver region. I employ a nested comparative case-study design, drawing on 60 interviews (with engineers, planners, emergency managers, policy-makers, and politicians) and a regional expert survey to analyze the institutional responses to existing and future flood risk by answering the following question: What is the relationship between sp-R and gen-R across governance scales? Overall, sp-R and gen-R are related through feedback loops across spatial, temporal, and jurisdictional scales, enabled by champions and social capital, subject to political and institutional changes within the governance system and bureaucracy. Municipally, sp-R and gen-R are related through urban planning processes and outcomes, organizational dimensions, and decision-making processes. Carefully constructed planning processes and nurtured organizational cultures enhance trust, shorten feedback loops between the politicians and bureaucracy, foster sp-R action and enhance gen-R. Municipal sp-R mechanisms (practices, tools, and innovations) reflect gen-R principles such as diversity and modularity but also present a governance/coordination challenge. By emphasizing site/area specific tools, municipal-scale planning mechanisms reduce opportunities for strategic region-wide flood management. While numerous municipal-scale sp-R¬–gen-R trade-offs (e.g., fiscal, equity, design) exist, regional decision-making mechanisms for addressing the cumulative effects of municipal sp-R responses are lacking. Provincially, the eroded gen-R limits municipal and regional sp-R options. Regional sp-R is constrained by multi-scalar barriers including regional-level flood risk governance regime gaps, a lack of federal and provincial leadership, and provincial sp-R path-dependencies (e.g., competitive funding arrangements that favour structural approaches). Moving from government to governance, regional sp-R planning is driven by champions and boundary organizations, which fosters gen-R through learning, collaboration, and exploration of options. Implementation of these options will require support and engagement from higher government levels and wider governance actors.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International