Shaping Resiliency: A Summit on Resilience and Vancouver’s Future

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On October 25, 2017, the Vancouver City Planning Commission (VCPC) in collaboration with the City of Vancouver, 100 Resilient Cities, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC), and Simon Fraser University’s Public Square, hosted a high-level summit on resilience and the future of our city. We held this event to encourage dialogue among thought leaders, experts and influencers from the public, private, non-profit and academic sectors. It wass an opportunity to inform the City’s Resilience Assessment and set the foundation for the ensuing strategy.

Inspired by the New Urban Agenda adopted in 2016 at Habitat III—the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development—the need to foster resiliency has become even more ‘top of the mind’ in light of recent earthquakes, hurricanes, nuclear threats, mass atrocities and refugees crises.

The 100 Resilient Cities program (100RC), of which Vancouver is a new member, defines resilience as “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt and grow, no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.”


In international comparisons, Vancouver is often viewed as being exceptionally endowed with social, environmental, cultural and economic assets. Current initiatives—the Greenest City Action Plan, the Healthy City Strategy, a City of Reconciliation among others, have placed us in an envious leadership position in many fields. At the same time, Vancouver is challenged by the need to integrate and harmonize our different approaches to address not just current problems such as affordability and equity, but longer-term issues such as climate change, migration, declining resources and the threat of natural disasters.

The Summit explored how Vancouver might benefit from aligning four themes from the New Urban Agenda within the context of the 100RC framework and the experiences of other cities in the 100RC Network. The themes are:

  • A City for AllAddressing the issues of inclusion, reconciliation and diversity are fundamental to a resilient future. [Download backgrounder pdf icon26KB ]
  • Communities and Corridors: Resilience requires strong communities that are connected well to one another. Balancing the development of  “place” and “passage” when done well, can support a vibrant civic community. Resilience requires creating community within a variety of built environments, including high rises. [Download backgrounder pdf icon24KB ]
  • Engagement for Real: A resilient city needs to harness the wisdom and skills of its residents—empowering communities to act together to address challenges. There is need to bridge gaps in expectations and to further trust in the engagement process. [Download backgrounder pdf icon26KB ]
  • Financing the Public Good and Public Spaces: Resilience requires that we reconsider how the public good, including investments in infrastructure and public spaces, in prevention and/or restoration, are financed. Are our current financing instruments sustainable and will they be appropriate in the future.  [Download backgrounder pdf icon27KB ]

Shaping Resilience

The summit asked participants to think about Vancouver in 40+ years; well beyond election cycles and current development proposals, and yet near enough to be relevant to the way we design projects and strategies for our city today.  Working through the lens of resilience, we considered how we can move our four themes forward, as well as how we might coordinate the integration of current and future plans and initiatives.

The summit began with a keynote presentation by Jeb Brugmann, director of  Solutions Development & Innovation at 100 Resilient Cities. Jeb spoke about the 100 Resilient Cities program and discussed how resilience serves as an umbrella lens requiring the integration of plans and initiatives. He also highlighted how cities in the 100RC network are working to meet the various physical, social and economic challenges  facing their communities.

The rest of the day will bring together participants from across many sectors, skills sets and interests, to encourage innovative thinking and develop new relationships. City of Vancouver decision makers were  invited to join the discussion at the end of the day to hear participant’s recommendations, reflect on opportunities for continued dialogue and consider options for integrating recommendations, particularly into the upcoming Resilience Strategy.

More Information

Presenting Partners:

Vancouver City Planning Commission wordmark
100 Resilient Cities; pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation
Simon Fraser University’s Public Square wordmark

With support from:

Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia Downtown Vancouver BIA

About the Vancouver City Planning Commission

The VCPC was created in 1926 and its contemporary role is to advise mayor and council on matters affecting planning and development related to the future of the City.

For more information on this event, or the VCPC’s work on urban resilience, please contact Yuri Artibise, Executive Director, Vancouver City Planning Commission at


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