Urban Studies - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Revitalizing Suburban Neighbourhoods with Smart Growth Design: A Case Study of Walkability in the Town Centre of Maple Ridge, BC

Date created: 
2016-07-21
Abstract: 

The design of our communities shapes the transportation choices that we make. Transportation choices include active and inactive modes that contribute to recommended levels of physical activity to maintain physical health. Walking, as a form of transportation, is increasingly viewed as an important form of physical activity that contributes to physical health. Community design is an outcome of planning policies. These planning policies, such as Smart Growth, shape the built environment, which influences peoples’ travel behaviour, and this in turn can affects health. The impact of Smart Growth re-­development strategies between 2009 and 2014 are explored through a case study of the Town Centre in Maple Ridge, BC. This study examined the relationship between built environment changes, informed by Smart Growth principles to encourage new residential density and sidewalk improvement projects, and walkability. Walkability in the Town Centre was also compared to overall city walkability, to understand the role of Smart Growth. Through an analysis of WalkScore and My Health My Community health and lifestyle survey data, this study found that walkability was higher in the Town Centre compared to Maple Ridge as a whole due to the Smart Growth planning interventions. Smart Growth planning principles such as compact neighbourhoods, pedestrian friendly design, and mixed land uses, aligned with built environment objectives that are conducive to utilitarian walking, thus effectively promoting utilitarian walking in the Town Centre.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Patrick Smith
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.Urb.

Active school travel in Fleetwood, Surrey, BC, Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-07-26
Abstract: 

Objective: Understand what factors motivate caregivers’/parents’ decisions of how their children travel to and from school so that policy can be designed to increase Active School Travel (AST).Methods: Follow-up surveys were distributed to five schools in the 2013-2014 school year, and again to three schools in 2014-2015 (22.0% and 40.6% effective response rates). Binomial logistic regression models determined the influence of household variables on caregiver/parental decisions of children’s mode of travel to and from school.Results: Models identified significant effects of accompaniment, distance from home to school, language spoken at home, and perception of neighbourhood safety. Interaction models also identified first-level effects. Conclusions: Caregivers agreed that neighbourhoods were safe, but STP did not increase from AST because STP failed to address moderating attitudinal factors. Interdepartmental/agency coordination with focus on addressing mediating and moderating factors of AST should increase AST.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Peter Hall
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.Urb.

Creative Industry in the Mt. Pleasant Slopes: Understanding the locational requirements of industrial and creative firms in Vancouver’s I-1 Industrial Area

Date created: 
2016-05-30
Abstract: 

This research focuses on understanding the locational decisions of both industrial and creative economy firms that have chosen to locate within Vancouver’s Mt Pleasant Slopes light industrial area between the time period of 1995 to 2015 in order to inform policy that seeks to intensify the use of industrial lands through new and complementary uses. Marshall’s theory of firm agglomeration is used as a framework to examine the locational decisions of firms through the factors of goods movement, labour and knowledge; a fourth factor is also developed as the built environment. Based on this framework, a survey along with semi-formal interviews were conducted in 2015 to develop a snapshot of an area undergoing rapid change. Through an analysis of both these qualitative and quantitative methods, labour and the built environment are supported as primary locational factors for existing firms in the area; an update of recent changes and pressures on the area are discussed, as well as future areas of research.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Patrick Smith
Peter Hall
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.Urb.

The Well-being of Low-income, Monolingual-Chinese Senior Residents: The Impact of Disinvestment and Gentrification in Vancouver’s Chinatown

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-06-27
Abstract: 

This study asks: how has Chinatown’s disinvestment and gentrification impacted the well-being of low-income, monolingual-Chinese senior residents? Vancouver’s Chinatown has undergone rapid neighbourhood change, yet the experiences of its marginalized residents are largely unknown. Using the City of Vancouver’s Healthy City Strategy as a framework for well-being, I interviewed twelve non-English speaking, low-income seniors who live in Chinatown. I found that while some revitalization projects of the 1990s added value to residents’ lives, the addition of trendy, high-end boutiques, cafes and restaurants over the last five years have negatively affected the seniors’ quality of life. Despite these harmful impacts, Chinatown continues to be an important neighbourhood for the well-being of low-income, elderly Chinese-only speaking residents. The neighbourhood’s existing social and physical infrastructure, along with culturally and linguistically appropriate services and goods require protection from gentrification to ensure vulnerable residents can thrive in the community.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Karen Ferguson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.Urb.

Opinions and behaviours contributing to household level food waste in Langley

Date created: 
2016-02-24
Abstract: 

Across Canada, $31 billion is spent each year on food that is never eaten, with just under half of this waste occurring at the household level (Gooch et. al, 2014). There are numerous environmental, social and economic implications of food waste, and a growing list of municipalities across Canada have implemented organics collection programs in an attempt to keep organic waste out of landfills. As an end-of-pipe solution, organics collection does little to address the upstream costs of food waste, nor does it facilitate the reduction of food waste in the first place. This study aims to explore the behaviours and opinions that contribute to household-level food waste in Canada in order to develop better educational programming and policies to curb food waste. This research was conducted in Langley, BC, a suburban municipality of approximately 110,000. The study consisted of an analysis of 141 surveys investigating food wasting opinions and behaviours, along with a more intensive week-long study involving 13 participating households. Participants in the week-long study kept a diary of their food waste instances and collected their food waste for analysis. Key findings include the need for standardized methodologies in food waste research, as well as the importance of distinguishing between avoidable and unavoidable food waste to better understand how much edible food waste is being thrown away. In Langley, households with children waste the most food; elderly individuals with no children in the house waste the least. Food wasted as a result of cooking, preparing or serving too much was the most common reason for wasting food. The financial loss inherent in wasting food was the number one driver for why individuals feel ‘bothered’ when they waste food. A noticeable lack of awareness about one’s household food waste was also discovered; individuals waste much more than they believe they do, signifying a need for more education and awareness of food wasting behaviours in the home.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Anthony Perl
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.Urb.

New Pieces to the Affordability Puzzle: Promoting Context Based Design Strategies with Local Governments, Non-Profits, and the Private Sector

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-05-24
Abstract: 

This project explores the context of housing affordability for area median income earners in the Pacific Northwestern cities of Portland, OR, and Vancouver and Whistler, BC. The analysis starts with the argument that regulatory measures, such as Inclusionary Zoning, should be considered after partnership-oriented and innovation based measures are exhausted. I move on to research two case studies that meet the requirements of the latter measures, which include: A downtown development that partnered with a local credit union, a private-sector developer, and the City of Vancouver to experiment with tools to build affordable housing, and secondly a design toolkit in Portland which aims to promote housing form diversity and good design with low-to-medium density developments in established neighbourhoods. The results show that there is greater room for such partnership and innovation based strategies in the Pacific Northwest, but there must be supports in place to keep housing affordable for the middle-class. To respond to this challenge, a third case of a Housing Authority in Whistler, BC is considered, as it is successful in terms of the number of affordable dwelling units in their inventory and the number of years that they have remained in operation. I conclude the project with reflections on the additional steps that municipalities can take to create and maintain affordable housing through less restrictive land-use policies, encouraging partnerships with non-profits, utilizing city owned land, and establishing a housing authority at arms-length from municipal jurisdiction.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Meg Holden
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.Urb.

The commercial strip by the river: A study of New Westminster’s urban waterfront

Date created: 
2016-04-07
Abstract: 

This research evaluates how economic changes in New Westminster’s central waterfront have influenced land uses and economic activities in the adjacent commercial strip, during the transformation from the industrial to the post-industrial era. By using a mixed method approach, I explore the mutual economic, functional and physical relationships between two geographical entities which have been studied mostly separately, urban commercial strips and waterfront redevelopments. I show that the industrial decline of the central waterfront substantially influenced the adjacent commercial strip, deepened the decline of the strip and caused an ongoing period of economic instability. The mixed-use development on the central waterfront’s former industrial lands was not able to generate positive economic influences to the nearby downtown. The long decline period of the commercial strip and decreasing rent prices resulted in the development of three main retail and services sub- sectors: alcohol related, antiques and bridal stores. My research findings suggest that physical connection between waterfronts and cities as well as their positive images are crucial factors for an economic prosperity of both areas.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Peter V. Hall
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.Urb.

The Sfu & city of Surrey transportation lecture program: measuring its impacts on participants

Date created: 
2016-02-18
Abstract: 

This study investigates the impact of the SFU and City of Surrey Transportation Lecture Program (TLP) on its participants' capacity to engage in local government and governance, contributing to an assessment of how broad-based civic education programs such as the TLP contribute to more collaborative and engaged local citizenship. Using in-depth interviews with eight program participants, as well as additional interviews with city and SFU staff, the study finds that participants had positive experiences and left the program with useful information, perspectives and relationships, but that they do not necessarily reflect the broader community or contribute to democratic participation more broadly. Programs like the TLP contribute in a piecemeal way to greater engagement by participants, but further development is needed to determine longer-term democratic goals.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Meg Holden
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.Urb.

TOD in the Park: Examining Development at Edmonds SkyTrain Station

Date created: 
2016-04-18
Abstract: 

This thesis investigates development surrounding Edmonds Station in Burnaby, BC. The area within 500 metres of Edmonds Station has seen high rates of growth since the opening of the SkyTrain in 1985 thanks to supportive regional, municipal, and neighbourhood-level planning policies. Using a mixed methods approach, neighbourhood plans and development patterns are examined to establish the degree to which they are consistent with the design goals and objectives of transit-oriented development (TOD). The research finds that the present-day physical environment around Edmonds has amalgamated a number of suburban characteristics with rapid transit infrastructure, and thus established the area as a family-friendly and walkable community. However, more work is needed to integrate the station with the neighbourhood and improve the community’s self-reliance. The thesis concludes that development near transit can successfully diverge from planning norms for TOD, to make transit-oriented living an attractive option for more people.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Anthony Perl
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.Urb.

Common ground? Exploring community in suburban townhouse developments

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-02-23
Abstract: 

Townhouses have become an increasingly prevalent form of housing in many suburban areas and, due to their unique characteristics, may be reshaping community in the suburbs in a number of different ways. Through three case studies in Surrey and Langley, British Columbia, this study explores the kind of community that exists in suburban townhouse developments and the extent to which its physical and legal characteristics shape this community. To help contextualize the research, this study also explores the extent to which planners and developers support community and how these efforts shape suburban townhouse developments. This study found that social interaction and sense of community in the townhouse complexes does not appear to be any different than the region as a whole. Furthermore, while the physical and legal characteristics may shape social interaction and sense of community, demographic variables and personal attitudes appear to explain the differences within the complexes.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Peter Hall
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.Urb.