Chicago’s Approach To Resilience Planning

Resilience planning is fast becoming the favored approach to combat climate change and other detrimental entities vexing the community. In May of last year, Chicago appointed its first ever chief resilience officer. Job description of the appointed officer, Aaron Koch was to focus on handling the city’s pressing problems in connected and smarter ways. Funding of this position is by the 100 Resilient Cities (100 RC) challenge promoted by Rockefeller Foundation which is a NYC based altruistic group which will pay the CRO for 2 years.

CAMP Comprehensive plan
The agency which is responsible for planning of seven northeastern Illinois counties including Chicago is Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CAMP). CAMP was created in 2005 in order to create a novel comprehensive plan ON TO 2050 with resiliency as the focal point. The first draft of the ON TO 2050 was released containing the recommendations which will appear in the final plan.

There are three interrelated principles:

  1. Inclusive growth
  2. Resilience
  3. Prioritized investment

Draft preview report defines resilience as the ability to be prepared and have the resources to recover from any severe shock or incident of stress by making social structures, infrastructure and natural systems more durable.

There are also five key trends which are integral to the planning process:

  1. Walkable communities
  2. Climate change
  3. Coerced resources
  4. Innovative transportation
  5. Evolved economy

Resilience planning in Chicago: Key focus

The main issue facing Chicago is its aging infrastructure, violence, flooding and failing infrastructure. An incident which defined the skyline of Chicago, the Great Fire led to the reconstruction of most buildings. But, this was in 1871 and although Chicago is the mecca of modern skyscrapers, it was the pioneer which soon saturated and left little scope for redevelopment.

Storm water Management

Chicago has poor storm water management. Flooding is common and interferes with implementation of smarter parking services. Implementing a storm water drain will be a small change which has the potential to make a strong impact in the longer run. As the storms become larger, the city needs sustainable solutions which are better than the ones in the past. The Chicago Green Stormwater Strategy when implemented will prevent flooding and manage sewer and rainfall systems. Focus of this program is to create spaces inside public spaces to collect and reuse rainwater.

Dealing with Violence

Chicago is plagued with endemic violence and crime. The city hasn’t slacked in identifying the root cause of the problem. Violence is not just an issue which can be resolved by policing; only by addressing the underlying cause, issues of education, employment and poverty can be abolished.

Merging communities

Resources across jurisdictions must be shared and municipalities must find ways to become more proactive in undertaking planning. Local investment can be prioritized by enhancing the usage of CAMP Local Technical Assistance Program.

Reforming Tax policies

Cities will grow only when there is enough revenue which can be diverted towards development. Such revenue is accumulated only through tax. If a city must become economically resilient, tax structures and the sales tax base must be increased to address financial problems.

Introducing Mixed use communities
Mixed use areas are more affordable and investing in these will increase resilience.

Learning from other cities
There is a common pulse and language among all cities around the world. Every city deals with a similar change which makes it to the headlines. Communities must be involved and must get inputs from all regular people. A city’s system is successful only when the needs of its residents are met. In order to devise strategies, the core requirement of the city must be uncovered. Only then will a functioning system arise.