Risk-based Land-use Guide

Land-use decisions can create disasters or build resilient communities

Land-use Guide

Our team helps local experts build a guide for municipal staff to reduce disasters through their land-use decisions.

Municipal infrastructure and community footprints result from land-use decisions. Community safety and disaster resilience depend on informed land-use practice. This initiative will create a guide for municipal staff to make land-use decisions that mitigate disasters based on local, national and international best practices.

National Risk-based Land-use Guide

This project will provide a template and a process to develop a national land-use guide. It supports other communities for making their regional guides where the national guide cannot be reasonably applied. It will build capacity and support networks of people who want to make better land-use decisions through improved land zoning and development practices that reduce injuries, damage and disruption from disasters.

The regional guides are intended to be made by groups of municipalities that share similar natural settings, politics and social structures.

Creating a Land-use Guide — Pilot Project

In a pilot begun in 2010, stakeholders in southwestern British Columbia are creating a risk-based land-use guide and establishing a guide development process. The process begins with examining decision-making processes through a land-use decision simulation exercise. In the exercise, teams use a simulated development permit application and a strategic plan for an area plagued by hazards to develop best practice processes and principles for the guide. A subsquence workshop shares the simulation results and gathers input on the format and content of a land-use guide. Workshop outputs are consolidated in a draft guide through facilitated shared writing. Additional input is sought through follow-up discussions at conferences and additional workshops to identify best practices and practical applications. The draft guide is validated in another workshop through its application to a case study example. Final risk-based land-use guide is prepared, once again through shared authorship. The guide is posted online for reference and periodic update.

Stakeholders in this process include land-use planners, city managers, permits and licensing staff, engineers, critical-infrastructure owners and managers, insurers, researchers and practitioners of land-use policy, and emergency managers from all levels of government.

Currently, the pilot project is in the guide drafting stage. With the guide principles and structure developed, the organizing committee is held a best practices identification workshop in December 2011, and plan a validation exercise for the spring of 2012.

Benefits of a Land-use Guide

The land-use guide will enable the land-use decision-making process to reduce the potential for disasters. The guide development process provides opportunities for stakeholders to learn risk-based planning from each other, and to develop risk mitigation networks.

All regions of Canada are encouraged to begin the process of developing their own regional guides. Support for the process can be obtained from the Centre for Natural Hazard Research at Simon Fraser University and the Resilient Cities Working Group of Canada's National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. Lessons learned from the pilot project will be available to other communities considering a similar initiative.

Support Resources

Outputs of the exercises and workshops can be found at the Centre for Natural Hazard Research website http://www.sfu.ca/cnhr/workshops
The draft guide will be posted on this site when ready for detailed contributions
For further information contact: Bert Struik, bert.struik@nrcan.gc.ca, 604-375-6413 or Laurie Pearce Lauriepearce@shaw.ca