Shifting Shores and Perspectives: Making Room for the Sea and the Storm in False Creek Flats

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Pihooja, Katherine
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Coastal cities are grappling with how to shift their approach in designing the built environment to respond to global warming and sea level rise. With the potential increase of sea level rise by 1 metre by the year 2100, and climate change projecting more intense and frequent storms to British Columbia’s coasts, Vancouver will need to consider more resilient approaches to address flood risk along its shores. One area that will be exposed to flood risks includes the False Creek Flats, a historic tidal flat converted to rail and industrial hub in the core of the city, and on the cusp of transforming into the city’s next employment hub. At present, it is indiscernible that the False Creek Flats at one time was a historic tidal flat with a rich ecology supporting a variety of plants and wildlife, providing food and sustenance to the Indigenous people whose traditional territory included this land. The emergence of the rail and industry erased this history, the connection to the water, and the dynamic coastal processes that shaped the landscape. With the False Creek Flats undergoing a significant transformation over the next number of years, there is a window of opportunity to reconnect False Creek Flats to the coastal landscape, while also making room for flood waters and shifting perspectives on how we live with and build with water. This practicum seeks to develop a resilient design approach for False Creek Flats through three lenses: robustness, ensuring people are safe; adaptive, making room for the water; and transformative, shifting perspectives through design interventions. Leveraging the opportunity to make False Creek Flats resilient to climate change and flooding will benefit Vancouver by creating opportunities to shift public perspectives on how the city should adapt to sea level rise and climate change, while also bolstering public policy that will make the city and its residents more adaptive and resilient to change.
Climate change, Sea level rise, Stormwater management