On August 25 CIP hosted the webinar “Planning for Disaster Resilience.” In line with CIP’s key policy priority of climate change planning, this session delved into the question of how we can plan communities that are more resilient while building capacity and managing risk. Our speakers also addressed how to use available tools like research, policies, and plans to help mitigate disaster and increase resiliency.


Karolina Pol
Natural Resources Canada
Karolina is a graduate of the School of Community and Regional Planning at UBC. She has worked as a planner in the public and private sector and currently holds a position as a Senior Advisor in the federal public service.

Malaika Ulmi
Natural Resources Canada
Malaika Ulmi is part of the management team of the Geological Survey of Canada’s Pacific Division and the Public Safety Geoscience Program which conducts research across Canada on the geohazards and their associated risks.

Molly Mowery, AICP
Wildfire Planning International
Founder of Wildfire Planning International, a U.S. based consulting firm dedicated to helping local, state, and federal governments and communities reduce wildfire risk across North America. She also serves as the executive director for the Community Wildfire Planning Center.

Khalid Mohammed RPP, MCIP
City of High River
In his current role as Manager of Planning and Development for of High River, with Council support, has initiated and lead major transformation in the planning spectrum of the land use and policy planning lead to establishing High River as a led by example in the planning world.

Additional Notes – Responses to Audience Questions:

How can we minimise the impact of space weather hazards?Malaika Ulmi (Geological Survey of Canada) – This depends on what is being impacted. Pipelines can be made more robust and have additional corrosion protections, power grids can have redundancies or ability to absorb additional surge, forecasts to understand when HF radio might be affected, etc.

Which types of development are allowed in earthquake zones? What are the economic impacts of not allowing all building types?Malaika Ulmi – Zoning and development depends on the community. The building code has provisions that are based on the earthquake hazard at the particular location of any construction. That said the current build code protects only for life safety, not for building functionality after an event. For example, many people were surprised after the Christchurch earthquake when newer buildings had to be demolished. They protected the occupants but were no longer safe for the use intended. The New Zealand building code when this occurred was similar to Canada’s. This is why the planning function is an important one for earthquake resilience!

Karolina Pol (planner and former employee of Geological Survey of Canada) – From my perspective, it is about matching community risk-thresholds to development decisions. For example, are high-risk areas appropriate for residential uses or better suited for public space/parks? These are questions to explore with your community as they learn about the levels of risk in their city/town. The National Earthquake Risk Model, which includes neighbourhood scale data, is a great starting place for planners to a) illustrate levels of earthquake risk; and b) translate what that means in terms of impacts on local safety, economic activities, etc.

For communities built without fire planning considerations, what can be done post development to mitigate threats of wildfire?Molly Mowery, AICP (Wildfire Planning) – Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) or Community Wildfire Resiliency Plans (CWRPs) are fantastic tools to help communities that are already built prepare for wildfire threat. CWPPs/CWRPs should be collaboratively developed by local community agencies/departments, with engagement from residents, and can be supported by technical professionals. Local residents can also engage in the FireSmart community recognition program to help their neighbourhood work on voluntary activities such as vegetation management and retrofitting homes.

Has High River’s investment in resilience resulted not only in the avoidance of disaster losses, but also in additional economic stimulus? (i.e., the “resilience dividend”).Khalid Mohammed, Ph.D., RPP, MCIP (Town of High River) – Our investment in infrastructure (physical mitigation like dikes) has set us up for success for the future, but many investors are still hesitant to invest or “bet” on High River because the dikes have not yet been proven with high waters. The economic stimulus we have invested is in the underground infrastructure, downtown redesign, great public realm, enhancing of parks beyond just clean-up from the flood. But because many investors are still looking for a high-water event (not just hydrologic modelling) to show the town is protected, investor confidence is still not as high as I would like. Economic recovery has been one of the most difficult to measure/gauge, right behind resident’s personal individual resilience and recovery.