Stephanie Chang


Research Classification

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Postdoctoral Fellows

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Multi-hazard perspectives on risk perception, disaster preparedness, and emergency management (2022)

To adequately address the changing risks of natural hazards, traditional single-hazard frameworks and approaches must be refined to recognize the multi-hazard realities in which individuals and communities manage risks. This involves refining how academics and practitioners operationalize risk perceptions in the face of multi-hazard risks and adapting how community resilience is fostered. Drawing on the natural hazards, risk perceptions, and risk management fields of study, this dissertation investigates and demonstrates the importance of multi-hazard risks in the social science study of disasters. It uses three studies to examine how individuals and communities prepare and respond to multiple natural hazards, and is guided by the research question: How can a multiple natural hazard perspective contribute to understanding community resilience to disasters? Study 1 looks at multi-hazard risk perceptions at the individual level. Through a household survey (n=1,064) conducted in Kyushu, Japan, it finds evidence of cross-over effects whereby personal experience with one hazard influences risk perceptions of other hazards. Study 2 focuses on emergency managers’ experiences with preparedness and response in the face of multiple hazards, including natural hazards and the COVID-19 pandemic. Through interviews with 29 emergency managers serving a diversity of communities across British Columbia, it finds that these professionals’ perceptions and actions are influenced and constrained by funding and other institutional structures that were designed with a focus on single hazards. Study 3 examines how Canadian society prepares for emergencies and how individual preparedness differs between community types. Using a large survey dataset from Statistics Canada’s Survey of Emergency Preparedness and Resilience, it finds notable differences in multi-hazard risk perception, disaster experience, and emergency preparedness between populations in major urban centres and small communities. Together, these three studies conceptualize and provide insight into how communities and individuals perceive, prepare for, and respond to multiple natural hazards and provides recommendations on how adaptation can be supported to address changing multi-hazard risk profiles.

View record

Development and application of a computer simulation framework for assessing disaster recovery in urban communities (2020)

In this dissertation an object-oriented framework of models is developed and applied to study disaster recovery in communities in British Columbia, Canada. The impact of earthquakes on communities is quantified over months and years, and the focus is on identifying the factors that affect the recovery. Contrasting with the practice of investigating disaster impacts to infrastructure or societal systems in isolation, an integrated approach is used in this dissertation. Lifelines, buildings, and persons are modelled in the same computational environment. One contribution of this dissertation is the development of models for infrastructure and social systems of a community. Another contribution is the development of a new approach to simulate the transportation of goods through a network of models. This new approach allows great flexibility in the composition of the transported goods and facilitates the modelling of the competition for resources. Another innovation is the individual modelling of buildings and dwellings, in this work referred to as dwellings, in the community. The socioeconomic demographics of the dwellings determine their capacity to compete for limited resources, which affect their recovery capacity. The integration of socioeconomic demographics, infrastructure, and buildings in the same computational environment allows for a broad range of disaster mitigation actions to be compared. This dissertation assesses the benefits of improving resource management, retrofitting physically vulnerable infrastructure, improving access to funds for recovery, among other actions. The findings in this dissertation can inform pre-disaster plans and help identifying mitigation strategies that improve disaster recovery in communities in British Columbia.

View record

Urban flood management and disaster in Canada: incidence, recovery strategy, and environmental resilience (2020)

This dissertation investigates how cities can improve flood management relationships with riverine landscapes. It develops new data, analysis, and tools to address the need for systematic research on floods and flood management at the municipal scale. In Canada, floods remain the most frequent disaster type, and it is municipalities that are responsible for related land-use planning, emergency response, and often, flood management. However, municipal-scale information on flood disasters and flood risk management remains limited. To examine where in Canada flooding is a problem for municipalities, I developed and analyzed two databases: the All Floods Database (n=149), and a more detailed Riverine Floods Database (n=43), on municipal flood disasters from 2001 to 2013. Data were compiled from the Canadian Disaster Database, municipal surveys, staff interviews, and provincial and territorial disaster financial assistance records. According to the database, 15% of Canadian urban municipalities experienced flood disasters, most of which were non-riverine. Among riverine flood disasters, medium-sized population centres experienced disproportionately more events, and Alberta and British Columbia accounted for over half of the total. Next, I considered flood recovery as a window of opportunity for building resilience, focusing on environmental resilience in terms of flood management relationships with riverine landscapes. Are municipalities re-creating pre-flood conditions during recovery, or are they working to improve resilience and build back better? I created a typology of approaches to riverine flood management and applied it to 20 case study municipalities using survey, interview, and document data. Overall, 85% employed a primarily non-structural approach through land-use regulation. Comparing pre- and post-flood approaches, as many as 45% of municipalities modified their approach to improve resilience, and 30% chose a strategy that would in theory improve environmental resilience, particularly after large flood events; however, the majority retained a return to normal approach. Finally, I developed a tool, the Connection Workbook, to provide municipalities with a rigorous yet practical approach to operationalize assessment of environmental resilience. The tool was applied to three Alberta municipalities, and the results provided insights for actionable guidance to improve municipal flood management through the lens of riverine connection with the landscape.

View record

Coastal green infrastructure as a sea level rise adaptation measure: assessing environmental, local, and institutional contexts (2019)

With the acceleration of climate change impacts, adaptation is no longer a matter of choice for most communities. There has been a growing interest in coastal green infrastructure (CGI), natural and nature-based adaptation measures, due to its role in flood and erosion protection, and provision of multiple environmental, social and economic benefits. However, there remains a gap in understanding the context-dependency of CGI as an adaptation measure. In this dissertation, I empirically investigate the environmental, local and institutional contexts in which CGI can be used as a sea level rise adaptation measure through three distinct studies, focusing on the coastal regions of British Columbia (BC) and Washington State (WA).First, I conduct a regional study. Using climatic and environment indicators, I investigate where CGI has the highest coastal protection potential while taking into account its vulnerability. I conclude that CGI in the large population centers in BC and most of the communities in WA may not provide high coastal protection benefits, where CGI in the smaller communities have a higher potential. Second, I undertake a local study in BC, investigating community trade-offs between CGI and other adaptation strategies. I incorporate local perspectives to develop adaptation scenarios and create an evaluation framework using the literature and expert inputs. Applying the framework to the scenarios, I conclude that there are important trade-offs between the local implications of different strategies. I find that the CGI scenario had the highest positive impacts, but displayed institutional drawbacks compared to others. Third, I undertake an institutional study comparing the barriers to and facilitators of CGI implementation in BC and WA. I conclude that besides barriers and facilitators common to adaptation, factors specific to CGI, such as coastal jurisdiction and ownership; financial variation and flexibility; vision; organization efficiency and access to resources; partnerships and collaborations; NGOs; and community advocacy are also influential.Ultimately, this dissertation concludes that CGI’s context dependency influence its potential benefits, its applicability as a local adaptation measure, and implementation within the existing institutional arrangements. Considering contextual factors can support more successful implementation of CGI, and therefore can increase adaptation to sea level rise.

View record

Towards urban and regional resilience: a case study of Metro Vancouver region, Canada (2019)

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.

View record

Spatially explicit robust impact patterns: a new approach to account for uncertainties of long-term sea-level rise impacts at the local level (2018)

While sea-level rise (SLR) is a certain effect of climate change, there are deep uncertainties about when and by how much. Uncertainties regarding how SLR can impact society at the local level - further compounded by changes in non-climatic drivers, cascading effects, and local contexts – act as a significant barrier to SLR adaptation. Recent literature has called for a shift from using best available predictions to find optimal adaptation options to using scenario-based approaches to find robust options that can perform reasonably under a range of possible futures.In response, this dissertation develops a new approach, the Robust Impact Patterns (RIPs) method, to help decision-makers account for potential SLR impact under hundreds of future scenarios, assuming that no adaptation takes place. The method utilizes the pattern recognition capability of machine learning to transform thousands of modelled SLR impact maps into a small number of impact patterns that are robust across multiple futures, thereby processing an otherwise overwhelming volume of impact information in a spatially explicit and visualized manner. This method addresses the need to account for uncertainties in the early planning stage in order to inform selection of preliminary options to target robust impacts and avoid relying on generic or existing options.An application to the City of Vancouver demonstrated the feasibility of the RIPs method and assessed its practical utility. Geospatial models assessed 14 potential impacts (e.g., businessdisruption, sewage backup damage potential) in 336 plausible futures that account for uncertainties in future storm intensity, SLR, land-use, power infrastructure resilience, and structural integrity of buildings. The 14 impacts were selected to address the City’s information needs and to capitalize on the capabilities of the RIPs method. Results were synthesized into 16 robust impact patterns (RIPs). City officials and experts, as potential users, were engaged in a structured workshop to discuss the results and evaluate the RIPs method’s capability to support adaptation. The RIPs method was found to be a useful platform for convening multiple types of stakeholders to understand complex SLR impacts, which can facilitate the development of new adaptation ideas, partnerships, and resources for implementation.

View record

The Effects of Resettlement on Community Recovery: An Analysis of Post-Tsunami Aceh, Indonesia (2013)

In a context of constrained time, resources and geographical space, populations displaced by natural disaster often face diverse and/or ad hoc resettlement schemes. The purpose of this dissertation is to understand factors that can influence successful resettlement several years after a natural disaster so that it may better inform the management and planning of recovery processes. As such, this research asks: ‘How do resettlement patterns influence long-term holistic community disaster recovery?’ To address this question, this study explores recovery across five communities affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia. Using a mixed methods comparative case study design, villages in Banda Aceh and Aceh Besar that represent differences in resettlement process and pattern were targeted. Findings are based on fieldwork across these communities – Bitai, Gampong Baro, Lampulo, Neheun Compound and Panteriek Compound – six years after the disaster. Data collection included key informant interviews (i.e., village chief, elders, etc.), key expert interviews (i.e., members of government, NGOs, and academia), focus group discussions (i.e., villagers), direct observations, and secondary data. In the absence of a generally accepted method to measure community disaster recovery, a survey tool was implemented to assess holistic wellbeing outcomes. This tool is developed by operationalizing a capabilities-based approach through a series of steps that lead to a multi-dimensional recovery index. Results show that differences in overall recovery across the villages are not explained by either resettlement process (participation versus non participation) or pattern (resettlement in previous location versus in new location). Further qualitative data analysis displays that resettlement success in the five cases is influenced by (1) location, which shapes livelihood, connectivity and safety, and (2) built environment, which shapes sociability, identity and belonging. Comparisons across cases highlight that these influences impact recovery through a number of mechanisms of importance, such as access to governance structures, availability of gathering places, and social norms and behaviours. The analysis also describes how mechanisms are mediated by leadership, proximity and community composition. The findings support a broader understanding of post-disaster processes, including an emphasis on intangible dimensions and a need to approach resettlement using a lens of ‘place’.

View record

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Enhancing post-disaster waste management and debris removal : a case study of the 2021 atmospheric river event in the City of Merritt, BC (2023)

As disasters such as floods increase in severity and frequency across Canada, more waste will be generated, posing a challenge for waste management and disaster management practitioners. The 2021 atmospheric river event in British Columbia (BC) was a large-scale event that demonstrated how communities can still face long-term challenges associated with debris removal. This thesis addresses three main research questions: (1) What are the existing waste removal processes for flooded communities in BC? (2) What gaps or limitations exist in these processes? For example, within the context of these processes, what socio-economic or other factors might impede a household’s ability to effectively remove their flood waste? and (3) How can the post-flood waste removal process and disaster debris management be improved? These questions are examined through a case study of the City of Merritt, BC, which was severely impacted by the 2021 atmospheric river event. The entire city was evacuated due to the failure of its wastewater treatment plant and the inundation of homes. This thesis draws on 14 interviews with city staff, government officials, contractors, and non-profit organizations to characterize the debris removal process and examine its challenges. Some gaps in this process include support for vulnerable groups such as seniors and renters in the community. Lastly, recommendations and lessons learned from the City of Merritt are explored to support better preparation for future disasters. The City piloted a curbside debris collection program, which was one of the successes that other communities can learn from to help their debris removal and recovery efforts.

View record

Overcoming path dependency to implement nature-based solutions for coastal flooding: cases from the global north and south (2022)

The limitations of dominant approaches to managing coastal flood risk that rely on technical, hard, grey infrastructures have become more evident, and nature-based flood defences (NBFD) have been gaining attention in coastal climate change adaptation. This study explores the barriers and possibilities of transitioning toward NBFD, focusing on how path dependency can be overcome to implement NBFD in coastal areas. Through a systematic literature review, a conceptual framework is developed to identify lock-ins as well as enabling factors that can overcome path dependency and facilitate implementing NBFD. The framework is then applied to three NBFD case studies that are widely considered to be success stories from the Global North and South: (i) The Wide Green Dike (WGD), (ii) the Living Breakwaters, and (iii) Mangrove Plantation Projects (MPP). Through document review and 16 expert interviews, the research identified case- and context-specific lock-ins and enablers in the implementation of each case study. The study shows that the key factors causing lock-ins differ more amongst case studies than factors breaking path dependency. Insufficient data and/or technology and gaps in coordination significantly influenced all three case studies, although this took different forms. Aversion to change was a significant influence in the WGD and LB case study, which impacted the trust and uptake of NBFD. The MPP has more lock-ins than the other two case studies, including knowledge gap, lack of financial resources, and overdependence on local knowledge. Regarding factors breaking path-dependency, collaboration, leadership, and available funding resources were important for all three case studies, and past flooding events triggered changes in the approach to FRM. Community engagement has also been identified as a critical factor and was especially important in the MPP case study. In sum, the study showed that the lock-ins and enablers differ not only between the Global South and North cases but also between the two Global North Cases, and they interact in both causing and breaking lock-ins. Lastly, the findings inform guiding principles and recommendations for policymakers, planners, and key decision-makers on successfully overcoming lock-ins to implement the appropriate NBFD in the future.

View record

Adaptive mitigation: a framework for integrating climate adaptation and mitigation solutions in urban multi-unit residential buildings (2021)

Climate change mitigation/sustainability initiatives for the built environment have become well established over the past three decades. With increasing extreme weather events and climate impacts, building industry stakeholders have more recently been advancing adaptation/resilience policies and guidance. However, these initiatives have largely remained separate from mitigation/sustainability, with very limited investigation of their interrelationship. This lack of integration can result in unintended consequences such as increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, augmented risks, and negative health and well-being outcomes. Investigating interactions between adaptation and mitigation strategies provides an opportunity to benefit from synergies, minimize conflicts, and achieve more holistic project solutions. Many researchers have identified the need for integrated assessment methods, frameworks and user-friendly decision-support tools that capture both adaptation and mitigation. While integrated assessment methods have been created for the municipal scale, they are lacking at the scale of buildings and their immediate neighbourhoods. As a response to this gap, this thesis aims to integrate adaptation and mitigation paradigms through the development of an integrated evaluation framework for urban multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs). The framework and associated tools were developed though an iterative process using multiple methods that included document analysis of relevant academic and industry literature, expert interviews in the U.S. and Canada, a series of stakeholder workshops, a survey to elicit feedback on draft framework documents, and case examples from the partner organization, BC Housing. The resulting Integrated Building Adaptation and Mitigation Assessment (IBAMA) framework provides a process-oriented collaborative tool for building owners and design professionals to integrate climate adaptation and mitigation considerations and identify synergies, trade-offs and conflicts between proposed solutions. IBAMA is conceived primarily for the project planning phase, with follow-through during design, construction and project occupancy. It is implemented by means of an introductory primer, a detailed guidelines document, and an associated spreadsheet tool. The framework considers the larger neighbourhood scale, incorporates both technical and socio-economic factors, and is customizable to a project’s unique circumstances.

View record

From groundwork to implementation: a systematic review of coastal adaptation planning in Nova Scotia, Canada (2021)

The Canadian province of Nova Scotia is at risk of coastal impacts resulting from the anticipated outcomes of climate change in the region. Sea level rise, along with more frequent and intense storms, will increase the instances and severity of coastal flooding events in the province, demonstrating the need for adaptation strategies in vulnerable coastal zones. The Municipal Climate Change Action Plans (MCCAPs), which were completed by municipalities in 2013 in response to a provincial mandate, have provided a foundation for adaptation planning in the province. Using the MCCAPs from 20 coastal communities as the basis for investigation, this study employs a mixed methods approach that includes content analysis, surveys, and expert interviews to evaluate the implementation of coastal adaptation actions that were identified as priorities in these plans. Two overarching research questions are asked: 1) what priorities for coastal adaptation were identified in the 2013 MCCAPs and which of these actions have been implemented since; and 2) What are the local factors that have influenced the success of implementation? Results demonstrate that the MCCAP mandate has been highly effective in stimulating coastal adaptation in the province, with nearly 75% of the 331 priority actions contained in these plans having been implemented to some degree. However, progress varies widely between communities and the data analysis suggests that both the characteristics of the communities and the characteristics of their planned actions are significant determinants of success. Previously developed theories on the influence of local policy factors in enabling successful adaptation are tested with mixed results. Some factors that are typically thought of as advantageous – dedicated funding, presence of a champion, and recent disasters – are shown to have no statistical influence on the success of plan implementation, whereas political continuity and public participation throughout the planning process have significant positive effects. Interviews with municipal representatives complement the data analysis with local context and perspective and offer insights for future adaptation planning in Nova Scotia and beyond.

View record

Nature-based flood protection: the contribution of tidal marsh vegetation to wave attenuation at Sturgeon Bank (2020)

Coastal communities are at an increasingly elevated risk of coastal flooding from storm waves, storm surge, and sea level rise due to climate change. The risk of coastal flooding means that coastal communities are actively planning and preparing for future flood risk reduction. While some communities are using traditional dike and protect strategies, others are exploring alternative nature-based flood protection solutions that maximize benefits for communities and ecosystems. Tidal marsh ecosystems can act as a buffer to flooding by dissipating wave energy and reducing wave heights, even in storm conditions. Many studies have investigated the potential of foreshore marshes to attenuate wave energy and to reduce wave loads on protective structures like dikes. However, there have been no similar studies focused on Canada and the Fraser River delta, where low-lying coastal communities are exposed to flood hazard and are also bordered by expansive tidal marshes. Using a case study of Sturgeon Bank near Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, this thesis evaluates the wave attenuation capacity from vegetation in a varied brackish foreshore marsh, considering seasonal differences in vegetation conditions as well as changes in vegetation extent from the 1980s to present. Vegetation and wave height data were collected along transects at Sturgeon Bank in summer and winter seasons, and historical vegetation data were gathered from previous field surveys. These data were used in the SWAN (Simulating WAves Nearshore) wave model to evaluate the wave energy dissipation by vegetation at Sturgeon Bank under a variety of conditions. Based on the modeled results, wave attenuation from vegetation makes up nearly one third of the total wave energy dissipated in winter, and two thirds of total wave energy dissipated in summer under normal wave conditions. Most of the wave energy (>80%) is dissipated in the first 100 metres of marsh vegetation. Even during storm conditions, current vegetation dissipates up to 20% of the total wave energy and acts as a buffer for flooding. This research provides evidence to inform future policy and planning for nature-based flood risk reduction, and adds support for the conservation of tidal marshes in the Fraser River delta.

View record

Institutions contributing to system adaptability : the case of flood management in the Fraser Valley (2011)

The flood threat has existed as long as humans have inhabited the Fraser Basin but the context is changing. Climate change is expected to impact streamflow and flood patterns in yet unpredictable ways, at the same time that population, infrastructure and economic activity continue to increase in floodplain areas in the Basin. This challenge is emerging just as significant shifts in relationships between First Nations and non-First Nations institutions in Canada are taking place. All levels of government jointly affect the adaptive capacity of the linked social-ecological system they inhabit together. In the face of such complexity and uncertainty, a system needs to have the capacity to anticipate, learn, adapt and transform, and not just react, in order to persist. The central research question explored in this study is: How does institutional capacity enhance and/or hinder the current, and ongoing, adaptability of the flood management regime? Drawing on the fields of social-ecological systems, disaster management, and organizational resilience, an adaptability lens is combined with Healey et al.'s Institutional Capacity framework (1999, 2003) to explore these questions focusing on the case of a flood management regime involving the City of Chilliwack and Stó:lō Nation communities in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia.The study is based on documentation, direct observation and twelve expert interviews conducted with representatives of key organizations. Sources of Institutional Capacity that enhance adaptability include the presence of divergence and diversity across the system, along with “learning systems” and collective “sensemaking” repertoires (i.e. the ability to interpret and act in novel situations). Barriers to enhancing adaptability were also identified. For example, an overriding belief in structurally-driven flood management is at odds with the nature of the flood hazard and potential changes. As well, the relative proficiency of the emergency management system may undermine longer-term cycles essential for resilience.Overall, the analysis suggests that the flood management regime was adaptable in the short-term. In the mid- to long-term there are important components of institutional capacity that enhance the potential for adaptability, but a number of weak or missing elements threaten to undermine system adaptability if left unaddressed.

View record

Post-disaster community recovery- linking environmental and economic recovery (2011)

This study examines the linkages between environmental and economic post-disaster recovery for coastal communities using the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast as a case study. The disaster literature often neglects to discuss the recovery of the natural environment in urban areas and how this influences the economic recovery of a community. This is caused in part by the difficulty of measuring recovery. However, it is a very important part of the post-disaster recovery and this study explores such ‘hidden losses’ as a declined contribution of the local fishery industry to the community. It is also important to recognize that the perception of how the natural environment relates to human societies is influenced by a society’s paradigm. This study first examines the influence of two contrasting paradigms on the assessment of the recovery of natural system: the anthropocentric and ecocentric paradigms. This provides insights into the influence of the contemporary anthropocentric paradigm and the contrast with an ecocentric approach. Secondly, this thesis research studies the linkages between environmental and economic recovery for coastal tourism and fishery industries, focusing on a case study of the Biloxi area of Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The empirical insights gained from the case study are used to refine a framework for linking post-disaster environmental and economic recovery. Fieldwork was conducted in October 2010 and included 13 expert judgment interviews with local stakeholders and authorities. Quantitative analysis was also conducted using statistical time series data on economic and environmental variables. Results indicate that the economic recovery of the environment-dependent fisheries sector lagged behind the recovery of the general economy. This is caused by several factors such as decreased demand for fisheries products due to perception of environmental damage. Findings are summarized in a diagram of linkages between environmental and economic recovery.

View record

Urban Change and Transportation Vulnerability to Earthquakes: The Case of Metro Vancouver (2010)

A convergence of several factors has made Metro Vancouver’s transportation system vulnerable to earthquakes. Unfortunately, traditional post-disaster evaluations are often inadequate as they undervalue regional dimensions of transportation quality. After a fairly basic examination of ten of Metro Vancouver’s critical pieces of bridge infrastructure, results suggest that the transportation system will perform reasonably well when exposed to earthquakes with magnitudes between 4 and 8. However, certain damage outcomes leave many areas with limited accessibility. In particular, the simple sampling analysis suggests that the four most frequent damage outcomes - the loss of the Lion’s Gate, Oak Street, Arthur Laing, and Alex Fraser Bridges, respectively - present some interesting results. The Oak Street and Arthur Laing Bridge damage outcomes appear to cause minimal travel disruption likely due to relatively high levels of network redundancy. Conversely, the loss of the Lion’s Gate Bridge produces relatively much harsher diminished transportation performance. Furthermore, after observing transportation performance over time between 2004 and 2021, it would appear the region is at risk of suffering from diminished transportation quality as a consequence of land-use changes. These could have significant social and economical consequences. Overall, perhaps the most valuable output of this research is the formulation of a methodological framework to study post-earthquake transportation performance in Metro Vancouver. Another novelty of this research is the comparative study of earthquake risks in past and future regional environments. The paper also proposes some new methods for reducing post-earthquake transportation disruption. In particular this research suggests the use of targeted transportation demand management (TDM) policies to reduce strain on transportation networks prior to and following an earthquake. These are policies that could be included in municipal or regional disaster management and transportation planning frameworks.

View record


If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.


Explore our wide range of course-based and research-based program options!