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Dynamic Cities Project

Guest writer Cary Moon is a landscape and urban designer, and director of the People's Waterfront Coalition

image.jpeg Those forward thinkers in Vancouver are at it again. These guys at the Dynamic Cities Project have created a new laboratory ready to help cities rethink planning, development, and infrastructure investment strategies in light of oil depletion and climate change.

They’re doing research now to illustrate global trends, and developing scenarios for local and regional governments to use in future visioning and planning. Their intention is to help cities and regions increase their resiliency by identifying transition strategies and making the right investments now. It’s all about understanding the range of possible future conditions, and starting preparations NOW to weather what comes.

An example of a local government starting to address the oil depletion challenge is underway in Burnaby BC, outside of Vancouver. The City commissioned a study of how oil depletion will affect their future, and City Councillors heard the results in January.

The science in the report isn’t new, but it seems like the sense of local responsibility is. Like Seattle’s leadership in committing to the Kyoto Protocol, their good example suggests it may be up to cities to start on their own transition strategies to reduce oil dependence. And the sooner the better; the more quickly we can slow down growth in consumption, the more manageable the transition to supply shortfall will be. (See these two reports for analysis of future scenarios and mitigation strategies: Peaking of World Oil Production and Oil Depletion.)

If reducing car dependence is going to be a key priority for cities addressing the double whammy of climate change and oil depletion, 20th century cities probably should have started 20 years ago: changing development patterns and transportation infrastructure investments happens SLOWLY. Maybe pre-car cities are going to have a serious advantage over post-car cities in the next few decades.

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