Managing trade-offs between specific and general resilience: Insights from Canada's Metro Vancouver region

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, mode - subway/metro, planning - environmental impact


Specific and general resilience, Urban and regional resilience, Trade-offs, Flood risk governance, Sea-level rise


The concept of resilience has captured the imagination of urbanists and city managers. While the literature on urban and regional resilience has proliferated, our understanding of resilience trade-offs that elected municipal officials and city staff make in their daily practice remains limited. This article addresses this lacuna by examining specific and general resilience trade-offs through a case study of urban and regional planning for floods and sea-level rise in Canada's Metro Vancouver region. We identify the mechanisms that ensure the maintenance of long-term options that are essential to the development of general resilience and highlight the barriers and forces that constrain the investment in general resilience. We find that while there are many examples of nuance and depth in practitioners' deliberations about resilience trade-offs involving fiscal, equity, spatial, temporal, and design dimensions, examples of the application of a consistent transparent framework to incorporate these trade-offs to support overall decision-making are lacking. We find that in the absence of such explicit frameworks, fiscal and political considerations tend to dominate. While there were some clear mechanisms to articulate trade-offs leading to specific resilience gains at the municipal level, the losses to general resilience at the regional level remained somewhat unintended and implicit.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.