Climate Resilience Planning with Vulnerable Communities: A Case Study of Engagement and Citizenship in Edmonton, Alberta

  • Author / Creator
    Roszko, Ashley
  • Municipal governments are playing key roles in the development of climate adaptation and resilience policies and are increasingly incorporating participatory approaches into policy development processes. However, confusion and assumptions about the definition of resilience, as well as related goals, makes it difficult for citizens and municipal representatives to collaborate effectively for climate adaptation and resilience planning. This is a particular concern for vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, as they are not often able to participate in developing climate adaptation and resilience approaches, yet are most at risk of the impacts of climate change. To date, there has been limited research examining how community and municipal perspectives of resilience compare and contrast, and how this might affect climate resilience planning in more vulnerable and dynamic neighbourhoods. There has additionally been little research on vulnerable and marginalized perspectives of their experiences with civic engagement in relation to municipal initiatives of climate change preparedness. This qualitative case study, situated in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, investigates how citizens within vulnerable and complex neighbourhoods understand resilience and civic engagement, as well as what support might be needed to increase climate change resilience in specific communities. With the use of interviews and focus groups, this research was conducted within two vulnerable and diverse neighbourhoods in Edmonton in the context of the municipality developing and implementing a climate adaptation and resilience strategy, and engaging neighbourhoods in building climate resilience plans to address their needs.
    Research findings from the first study show that municipal employees and community members have different perspectives of resilience; technical and scientific approaches were mostly emphasized by the municipality, while community participants discussed a plethora of issues that needed to be addressed to build resilience related to social challenges and marginalization. This study underlines the need for municipalities to take into consideration citizen’s experiences within their specific communities and find innovative ways to combine social and community development efforts with climate resilience planning. In the second study, with the use of scholarship on climate justice and engagement, I focused on generating knowledge of the ways in which vulnerable communities articulate climate resilience in relation to their encounters of risk within local neighbourhoods and the patterns of exclusion which shape these experiences. Research participants articulated their exclusion from resilience planning at a variety of scales. Importantly this consisted of their exclusion from policy development and decision making, but also included concerns about their ability to access and influence urban geographies. In this way, participants readily connected conversations about climate resilience to processes of urban planning and development in their neighbourhoods. This research points to the need for a broader conversation to be had about citizen’s ability to shape their city and how the most vulnerable groups should be included in building both social and climate resilience that considers their values, experiences, and concerns within their city and communities.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2020
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.