Major Research Papers

Students in the course-based MSc in Urban and Regional Planning program complete a Major Research Paper or Project (MRP) in their final semester.  Below are the summaries of recently completed work.  If you are interested in reading the full paper, please contact the School Administrator at


Planning for Resilient Heritage

Climate Change Adaptations & Built Heritage: A Case Study in Charlottetown, Canada   by Vada Antonakis

“Since the adoption of the World Heritage Convention in 1972, climate change has been recognized as one of the most significant threats to cultural heritage (Markham et al., 2016)” (Antonakis and Birchall, 2019, p. 3). Erosion, flooding, sea level rise, and extreme weather events are directly causing adverse and irrevocable damage to built heritage across coastal communities (Phillips, 2014; Markham et al., 2016). Incorporating climate adaptation strategies into land use and heritage planning policy is critical for the conservation of built heritage; failure to address the impacts of climate change may lead to permanent damage, abandonment, or inappropriate interventions that can compromise the significance or authenticity of heritage assets (Antonakis and Birchall, 2019; Phillips, 2014). Land use and heritage policy plays a significant role in the effective management of built heritage, as it directly governs the designation, interventions, and regulations related to the treatment and management of heritage assets. However, there is insufficient empirical research that critically investigates how communities are incorporating adaptations into planning policy for built heritage.

Charlottetown, Prince Edwards Island, is a coastal city characterized by extensive built heritage that holds significant value to residents and attracts substantial tourism. Community decision-makers and current planning policies are struggling to quickly and effectively cope with increasing climate instabilities and their impacts on built heritage. This study examines how effective current planning policy is in addressing the impacts of climate change on heritage; identifies the key risks and challenges that current decision-makers face; and proposes recommendations to help overcome these challenges. This study utilizes a qualitative research approach involving content analysis of local planning and policy documents and semi-structured interviews with four key planning practitioners in Charlottetown. It was found that Charlottetown’s built heritage is currently experiencing climate change impacts, however, current actions and policy in the city are not adequately addressing these threats. Challenges related to low prioritization are a result of insufficient capacity and motivation in the community to deal with current threats and impacts. As a result of this, inadequate policy and preparedness in Charlottetown creates several risks and challenges for heritage resources, heritage owners, tourism, and local government.

Based on the findings of this study, the following recommendations are proposed to help implement climate adaptations for built heritage. Knowledge and Evaluation: identify key impacts and vulnerabilities of climate change on local built heritage; establish an evaluation framework and a monitoring system to see how impacts and vulnerabilities are changing over time. Policy and Adaptation: incorporate climate adaptations into key strategic policies and plans; leverage existing and new policy to benefit heritage; establish flexible interventions for built heritage that consider climate change impacts; alignment and consistency across all levels of policy to prevent contradictions, gaps, or unintended negative impacts on heritage. Education and Advocacy: educate heritage property owners, council members, and administrative decision- makers on climate change impacts and adaptation for built heritage; regularly advocate for heritage adaptation to keep attention on the matter. Resources: connect with other communities and NGO’s undertaking similar work; allocate and dedicate funding towards heritage and climate change research, policy, and conservation. Cooperation and Communication: efforts to involve heritage owners, citizens, multiple city departments, council, and other stakeholders must be made throughout the entire process from research to implementation to ensure success of climate adaptation for heritage.

Keywords: climate change, urban planning, heritage conservation, planning policy, adaptation