Aware of the uncertainty the future holds, the limitations of traditional forecasting methods and the value in better integration across land use and transportation, Metro Vancouver and TransLink collectively pursued the scenario planning project led by WSP. Following the guidance provided by WSP’s consultants, the two regional agencies explored possible futures, opportunities, and challenges to identify scenarios, which allow the long-range plans to be tested for resilience.
Why scenario planning?
As both Metro Vancouver and TransLink are in the process of updating their respective long-range planning processes, the agencies recognized the value in looking at alternative futures that could result from conditions beyond their control to help broaden the scope of considerations used to develop robust strategies and actions for the future.
What were the alternative futures considered?
For this project, the focus was placed on the analysis of external forces and how they interact to form robust scenarios for analysis. Upon identifying 25 external forces, otherwise referred to as disruptors or drivers of change, four scenarios were generated to highlight the opportunities and challenges that would arise in the future. The scenarios are as follows:
- Trend Forward
Current economic growth and development trends continue
- Automation-driven decline
Job losses and outmigration result in a regional economy in decline
Barriers to global trade spur a more self-sufficient regional economy
- Automation-driven boom
Automation drives a new economic boom led by new creative and knowledge-based sectors
The alternative scenarios developed were then shared with a multi-disciplinary group of experts with extensive industry knowledge to be vetted to ensure the concepts are grounded in sound logic. The project did not commence to the fifth step, resiliency analysis, as the long-range plans had not been developed enough to test the resilience. Metro Vancouver and TransLink are still in the process of creating actions and policy responses, and the fifth step is expected to take place afterwards.
For this project the focus was placed on comparing the scenarios to the present day and establishing key changes in terms of key indicators such as population, unemployment, travel demand, income equality and flood risk. Metro Vancouver and TransLink are now better positioned to shape a more resilient vision for growth and transportation in the region and to update the Regional Growth Strategy and Regional Transportation Strategy. Using the scenarios developed, the agencies can inform future transportation and land-use projects, policies and programs and evaluate existing resilience plans and implement a new robust set of actions for the future.