The district of North Vancouver’s landslide management strategy: role of public involvement for determining tolerable risk and increasing community resilience


This paper examines the public involvement processes contained within the Landslide Management Strategy for the District of North Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. Following a fatal landslide in the Berkley neighborhood in 2005, the District of North Vancouver convened a community-based Natural Hazards task force to establish risk-tolerance criteria for natural hazards. This paper describes the community task force approach and evaluates it against four criteria for successful public involvement: representative participation; early involvement; information availability; and impact on policy. It is identified that the District could have incorporated a broader understanding of risk, allowing public perspectives to influence the initial framing of the risk issue before charging the Natural Hazards task force to arrive at quantitative risk-tolerance criteria. The District could also have sought to engage a somewhat more representative portion of the population to serve on the Natural Hazards task force, seeking to incorporate a broader set of public values and types of knowledge. Notwithstanding, the Natural Hazards task force successfully utilized social, legal, and scientific information for informed decision-making, and their recommended risk-tolerance criteria were enacted into policy by the District of North Vancouver as a result of the process. The paper also investigates the District’s ongoing public involvement and education efforts with respect to landslide risks, considering information accessibility and its usefulness for increasing individual capacity and community resilience. Overall, the District’s ongoing, dynamic approach to risk management promises to empower individuals and foster resilient communities in the aftermath of the tragic Berkley landslide.

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  1. 1.

    For the purposes of this discussion, stakeholder refers to “interested and affected parties” as per the US National Research Council (1996).

  2. 2.

    Some landslide hazards involved different geological conditions, failure mechanisms, or urban development scenarios than those present along the Berkley Escarpment. These sites required the use of different landslide hazard and risk assessment techniques, including limit equilibrium slope stability analyses, rock fall runout analyses, and professional judgment (BGC 2010a). Where limit equilibrium slope stability analyses were used, the results were compared to the DNV’s criteria for existing engineered slopes (static factor of safety >1.3 (BGC 2010b; Dercole 2009)).

  3. 3.

    There is a legal basis for this action: under Canadian tort law, property owners may be strictly liable for damages arising from the escape of material that has been introduced or accumulated on their land, and for interference with the use and enjoyment of another person’s property (Linden 2001).

  4. 4.

    It is worth noting that home insurance in Canada generally does not cover damage from landslides or other earth movements (IBC 2012).


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Dr. D.M. Cruden, Dr. C.G. Jardine, Dr. C.D. Martin, and Dr. N.R. Morgenstern are thanked for their thoughtful comments and encouragement during the drafting of this manuscript; two anonymous referees also provided constructive input. Funding for this research was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, and the University of Alberta.

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Correspondence to Kristen M. Tappenden.

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Tappenden, K.M. The district of North Vancouver’s landslide management strategy: role of public involvement for determining tolerable risk and increasing community resilience. Nat Hazards 72, 481–501 (2014).

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  • Landslide
  • Task force
  • Public participation
  • Stakeholder
  • Tolerable risk
  • Resilience