Designing for vancouver

Vancouver is a beautiful city located between the ocean and the mountains on Canada’s west coast. It is renowned for its proximity to nature and leading sustainability initiatives. Vancouver has been rated globally as a top livable city, with a growing metro population of over two million people.

Vancouver on edge 

However, Vancouver's geography is also the source of a variety of risks. Located near the meeting point of the Juan de Fuca and North American tectonic plates, it is estimated that Vancouver faces a one in three chance of experiencing a damaging crustal or megathrust earthquake in the next 50 years. The City of Vancouver, our primary partner in this project, is currently facilitating important conversations about the area’s social and physical resilience. In 2017, the city appointed its first ever Chief Resilience Officer and officially launched a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation as part of the 100 Resilient Cities Network, with a Resilient City Strategy expected to be released in 2018.

The inactive tectonic plates along the west coast of Canada and the USA make the area long overdue for an earthquake.

The inactive tectonic plates along the west coast of Canada and the USA make the area long overdue for an earthquake.

Seismology experts predict that the impacts of an earthquake in Vancouver are likely to resemble the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. Following a magnitude 6.3 magnitude earthquake, Christchurch lost 185 people and nearly half of the downtown buildings. We were nervous to learn that the infrastructure, building codes and soil structure of Vancouver are very similar to that of Christchurch. We can only imagine how the experiences of 300,000 Christchurch residents would scale up to the two million residents in Metro Vancouver. Through conversations and research with survivors of Christchurch and other similar disasters, we learned that the most crucial resources are those which enable a community to come together and collaboratively rebuild, fostering resilience.


Vancouver's Strengths and weaknesses

We have used several of Vancouver's strengths and weaknesses to inform our design. Some of these include the region's high annual precipitation and popular biking culture. 


City of Vancouver: Goals and plans 

The Neighbour Hub supports existing city goals from strategies including the Healthy City Strategy, Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, Renewable City Strategy, RainCity Strategy and Resilience City Strategy.