News & Events

Guest Speaker Series: Engineers and Planners Working Together

April 6, 2021

On March 25, Angela Danyluk, a Senior Sustainability Specialist at the City of Vancouver, hosted a seminar on the topic “Engineers & Planners Working Together.”

Her presentation shared a values-based approach to planning and finding solutions to adaption to sea level rise in False Creek.

This topic is particularly interesting and relevant to our MEL in Integrated Water Management and MEL in Urban Systems students, who had a unique opportunity to learn from a Vancouver leader in sustainability and resilience, in the context of our current climate crisis.

A change-maker in sustainability

Angela Danyluk, in her role, works across disciplines on projects and programs related to adaptation, sea level rise, resilience, and ecology. Having completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology at UBC and a Master of Science in Environment & Management at Royal Roads University, she is a Registered Professional Biologist. Danyluk is best described as a change-maker in local government regarding sustainability, which extensive experience in this area.

Adapting to Sea Level Rise

Adapting to the impacts of climate change is the challenge of our century. The City of Vancouver, in a response to the challenge of climate change, created a new approach to sea level rise adaptation planning—the Coastal Adaptation Plan. In 2018, the Coastal Adaptation Plan was recognized with a Gold award in the category of Research & New Directions in Planning by the Planning Institute of BC.

This plan is one component of a larger, multi-year undertaking to determine the risk, consequences, vulnerability, and adaptation opportunities for Vancouver in response to future sea level rise and flooding. One of the first programs of its kind in Canada, the Coastal Adaptation Plan is the result of the development of a new planning process to engage and co-design values-based solutions with the public.

Danyluk explained how much of this planning involves the consideration of numerous potential adaptation approaches (resist, accommodate, or avoid), and she discussed the numerous pros and cons of each.

Grounding adaption in community values

As communities prepare for a future with higher seas and a more extreme climate, it is essential that engineers and planners work together on adaptation efforts. Traditional approaches to adaptation are changing as methodologies that rely solely on expert knowledge and technical approaches have been shown to insufficiently manage the complexity of the value laden choices communities at risk face. For adaptation to be successful, planning processes and technical solutions must be grounded in public participation and community values.

In her presentation, Danyluk, described how local government make decisions based on how sea level rise and coastal flooding risks will affect the city. In collaboration with scientists, as well as input, support and education both to and from the public, the city can plan and create more resilient, multi-purpose infrastructure that protects vulnerable communities and creates long terms benefits for all city residents.

In the City of Vancouver’s planning process, design principles were scored using community values. Crucial design principles include design for adaptability, for safety and public health, and safe-to-fail infrastructure, design with nature, access, and co-benefits.

Learning from leaders

UBC’s MEL students in Integrated Water Management and Urban Systems gained an insider’s perspective on Vancouver’s adaption efforts in response to the challenge of climate change and its incredible impact on sea levels, in particular. Danyluk emphasized, in particular, the importance of cooperation and collaboration between different professional groups, academics, as well as community members.

Guidance from this sustainability leader prepared MEL students to innovate as future environmental leaders in planning.

Are you prepared to lead change in climate change adaption? Explore UBC’s Master of Engineering Leadership and how it prepares you for positions of increased leadership.

Integrated Water Management

Integrated Water Management

Apply your technical and leadership skills in developing sustainable water management solutions.

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Urban Systems

Urban Systems
Gain the high-level technical knowledge and urban planning perspective to design and manage urban infrastructure systems and create more resilient cities.

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