Here's Why the City is Hiring a Chief Resilience Officer
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Here’s Why the City is Hiring a Chief Resilience Officer

Toronto was accepted into a global initiative called 100 Resilient Cities this year.

How do you achieve “resilience” in a city?

The City of Toronto is looking to hire a chief resilience officer. The position has been established through a New York-based initiative called 100 Resilient Cities.

Earlier this year Toronto was accepted into the network, which is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation in New York.

100 Resilient Cities’s goal is to build up resilience in cities all over the world when it comes to globalization and climate change, including extreme weather events and natural disasters.

The posting went up this week. Here’s the job description:

The primary responsibility of the CRO is to develop and implement a holistic and cohesive Resilience Strategy for Toronto, and supporting programs, to deliver a sustainable foundation from which to effectively respond to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. To successfully do this, this individual will need to interface with executive and managerial levels of City government as well as external agencies and community stakeholders. The CRO will also interact with the 100RC global network of cities, 100RC staff, affiliated Strategic Partners of 100RC and 100RC Platform Partners from the private, public, academic and non-profit sectors.

For two years, the position is funded by 100 Resilient Cities, the CBC reported last week.

“It’s like a pilot project at someone else’s expense,” Mayor John Tory told Metro in the spring.

He said the CRO’s strategy is expected to address “shocks,” like ice storms or floods, as well as “stresses,” such as congestion and poverty.

“We’re looking for a respected person who gets the fact that the solutions to these problems are going to come from collaboration,” the mayor told Metro.

“For example, there’s very little coordination between initiatives around homelessness being taken at Queen’s Park and the one we’re doing at City Hall. Those should go hand in glove.”

On 100 Resilient Cities’s website, here’s what it says about Toronto:

Despite recognition as a prosperous city of opportunity that has attracted over 2 million immigrants, Toronto tops Canada in levels of working poverty and has seen the greatest increase in income inequality in the country. The city has begun taking substantial steps to increase affordable housing and to address income inequality and transit equity. City officials predict that without further action, 60 per cent of the city’s neighbourhoods will be classified as low or very low-income by 2025.

Toronto is also vulnerable to a number of climate related shocks including rainfall flooding, blizzards, and heat waves. Severe flooding in 2013 was the most costly natural disaster in the city’s history, as 4,579 homes were flooded and 750,000 people lost power. Officials are concerned that a stronger storm could lead to even power disruptions that would impact the entire city and region, disproportionately affecting the city’s neediest.

Torontoist took a look at the concept of chief resilience officers back in 2014, using Oakland as a case study.

“In a rapidly urbanizing world, cities cannot afford to remain crisis-driven and reactive,” Rockefeller Foundation president Judith Rodin said at the time, in a City of Oakland press release.

“Cities like Oakland are at the forefront of fostering a resilience mindset that will be critical to proactively managing the inevitable challenges, shocks and stresses all cities will face.”