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

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The historical changes of New Westminster’s Brunette Creek industrial land

Date created: 
2017-11-28
Abstract: 

This research focuses on how economic and transportation infrastructure changes impact industrial land uses from 1945 to 2014 in the Brunette Creek industrial area of New Westminster, British Columbia. Using a mixed method approach, I conduct a statistical analysis of industrial business listings data and link these results to a content analysis over the study time period. The research shows that industrial land uses were impacted by changes to the economy and transportation infrastructure projects in the region. Economic changes in manufacturing production methods, de-industrialization and rise of the service sector impacted the study area’s land uses and led to industrial diversification. Transportation projects including the development of key road networks, the Port Mann Bridge in 1963 and rapid transit infrastructure had both direct and indirect impacts on industrial land uses in Brunette Creek.

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.

Density and diversity: Considering the impacts of mixed-use development on the retail culture of Vancouver’s Main Street

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-12-13
Abstract: 

In the past decade retail gentrification, or commercial gentrification, has begun to receive more attention from academics and policymakers as commercial real estate in cities like New York, San Francisco, and Vancouver experience significant transformation through redevelopment and speculation. This has resulted in increases in commercial property values and lease rates, displacement of independent small businesses, increases in chronic vacancies and the proliferation of chain stores, or formula business. This trend has been coined “hypergentrification” or “supergentrification” and has resulted in residents and businesses organizing in affected cities and communities to retain independent small retailers as symbols of local culture and neighbourhood identity; with local governments employing various policy responses to mitigate these concerns. The research examines how real estate development on Main Street between 2007 and 2016 is influencing retail mix there, with a particular focus on the presence of chain stores and independent small businesses in relation to development.

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.

Mind the gap: A case study of TransLink’s legislation and the non-implementation of the Vehicle Levy in 2001

Date created: 
2017-09-28
Abstract: 

The Greater Vancouver metropolitan region has developed a long history of regional collaboration among local municipalities. The 1990s marked a period of highly collaborative intergovernmental planning, which - with the support of the provincial government - resulted in the creation of TransLink, a regional transportation agency that manages major roads, bridges and public transit in the Greater Vancouver metropolitan area. This thesis investigates the provincial government’s decision to not allow TransLink to implement a vehicle levy in 2001. The research uses qualitative methods to examine this decision and the motivating factors that contributed to the provincial government’s approach to regional transportation in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The findings are that technical, organizational, and political factors influenced the provincial government’s vehicle levy decision. This thesis reveals how the provincial government’s political considerations were embedded within a series of events that framed the vehicle levy as a contentious issue. TransLink’s approach to the vehicle levy sparked public concern about fairness and equity, which led to cascading political problems and a lack of regional consensus, which thus resulted in the provincial government’s non-implementation of the levy.

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.

Queer-What-You-Can: Queer community organizing in a gentrifying East Vancouver

Date created: 
2017-09-15
Abstract: 

Queer studies and Urban studies rarely intersect, leaving an entire urban demographic understudied and under-represented in our conceptualizations of the city. Despite the lack of research or attention paid in particular to young queer adults in urban settings, these groups and individuals nevertheless shape our cities through their social organizing and subculture participation. Cities, in turn, shape these groups and individuals as well, as social organizing and sub-culture participation is shaped by forces like gentrification, changing social climates, and urban geographies. Using semi-structured interviews with queer community organizers, I seek to understand the question: What challenges do queer young adults face when organizing community in an increasingly unaffordable and gentrified Vancouver? How do they meet those challenges? These interviews provide insight and context to how queerness shapes global cosmopolitan cities amidst increasing social and economic barriers which impact these place-based groups and identities.

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.

Neoliberalism and the Evolution of the Urban Aboriginal Strategy in Metro Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-11-09
Abstract: 

This study tracks the evolution of the Government of Canada’s Urban Aboriginal Strategy (UAS) from beginning to end. It identifies four stages of the UAS, determining that at each successive stage it adhered more strictly to neoliberal principles of project delivery. It explores how this intensified neoliberalization of the UAS impacted urban Aboriginal organizations in Metro Vancouver by asking: How has a shift towards increasingly neoliberal government policies impacted Aboriginal organizations and their ability to deliver and sustain projects under the Urban Partnerships program of the Urban Aboriginal Strategy in Metro Vancouver from fiscal years 2014/2015 to 2016/2017? This project utilizes a mixed methods approach with data collected in three stages: content analysis of UAS documents, informant interviews, and analysis of informant organizations’ documents. Results show division between the federal and provincial governments over urban Aboriginal jurisdiction, while urban Aboriginal communities are expected to become responsible for their own needs.

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.

SFU and the city: Exploring meaning in community engagement

Date created: 
2017-07-31
Abstract: 

This study investigates community-university partnership by examining the relationship SFU has with its local community of Vancouver and the impacts the institution has on the city in which it sits via its community engagement efforts. Through exploring the concepts of town-gown, multilevel governance, and citizen participation, a framework for analysis is established. Data collected from SFU’s website and ten community engagement professionals is analyzed in terms of procedural and substantive content. This study finds that there are multidimensional purposes of engagement, some of which include a brand, source of identity, cultural development, and policy building. Substantially however, community engagement also has far-reaching implications for the role of universities in community partnership.

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.

Toward a more flexible form of Multi-Family Housing? Lock-off Units in Vancouver

Date created: 
2017-10-11
Abstract: 

This research study explores the interaction of planning policy and practice in the case of lock-off unit (LOU) policy in Vancouver, based on expert insight and market uptake, to explore the rationale and design process for including LOUs in new multi-family housing development. Using content analysis and qualitative interviews with planners, developers and architects, along with analysis of permit data, the study finds that this form of housing is found primarily in townhouses, with the LOU at the “basement” level, under the primary unit, and there are limited examples of LOUs in an apartment form. The research suggests that the potential flexibility offered by LOUs is closely linked to affordability, with the target market considered to be a couple or young family “upsizing” from a smaller condominium apartment. The design of LOUs is not completely open-ended or user-led, but the flexibility offered by LOUs has a potential role to play in providing a new form of multi-family housing. The findings in this paper will be useful to urban planners, architects and developers, and to policy makers and other participants in the fields of housing policy, planning and design.

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.

Urban Regimes and Election Finance: The Impact of Campaign Contributions on Electoral Outcomes

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-04-05
Abstract: 

The tenets of urban regime and growth machine theories suppose that corporate elites have an outsized influence over the municipal decision-making process. Clarence Stone and Harvey Molotch state that relationships between the business community and policy makers exist to advance economic development, creating an informal arrangement that has a significant impact on the evolution of cities. However, neither Stone nor Molotch explain how the power and influence of the business elite is exercised on the ground. This thesis looks at the role campaign contributions play in electoral outcomes and examines the following question: what impact does money have on electoral success in municipal politics and who benefits from the current campaign finance paradigm? Using quantitative analysis of data culled from financial disclosure documents from the 2014 civic elections in Metro Vancouver, this thesis is able determine that campaign contributions and spending haves a significant impact on electoral success. Funds have been categorized into donor groupings, making it possible to determine which types of contributors, be they individuals, labour groups, developers or corporate interests, have the best outcomes for the candidates they support. Key findings: Regression analysis shows that both campaign contributions and campaign spending haves a significant impact on vote totals, particularly in the early stages. For example, the first $1,000 in spending or donations correlates corresponds with the highest increase in the number of ballots cast for a given candidate, while the impact money has on vote totals decreases as contributions and donations increase. The thesis also examines the role incumbency plays in electoral success and demonstrates how corporate regimes use their financial resources to influence policy makers and electoral outcomes. 

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.

Moving targets: Mobilities, sustainability and space on Vancouver’s streets

Date created: 
2017-03-27
Abstract: 

This project explores the politics of mobility in Vancouver, as expressed through debate over the allocation, configuration and use of street space. Using a mobilities framework to explore the social relationships embodied within these choices about the allocation of physical movement of people within cities, this research consists of two in-depth case studies of commercial streets in Vancouver that have been the subject of recent neighbourhood plans. The project uses multiple qualitative methods, including document analysis, in-depth interviews and contextual observation, to locate a complex and sometimes contradictory discourse around mobility policies in Vancouver. Sustainability targets that rhetorically call for a reduction in automobile use are not realized in the actual interventions made to street space; instead, more symbolic measures are pursued that leave the social relationships of auto mobility unchallenged. A deliberate re politicization of mobility spaces is required to achieve a more intentional, sustainability and equity-focused distribution of urban mobility.

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.

Sharing space on Granville Island: An assessment of shared street performance

Date created: 
2016-11-30
Abstract: 

Shared space, or shared streets, is an urban design approach encouraging pedestrians and drivers to share a common surface by minimizing segregation features. Advocates contend that the concept generates extensive social, cultural and economic benefits. Scholarship investigating schemes and purported benefits have been limited primarily to European and New Zealand applications. Identifying the need to study shared space operations in the Canadian context, this research offers a quantitative evaluation of road user behaviour and shared street performance on Granville Island in Vancouver, Canada. Utilizing video survey, data was collected at three diverse sample sites between December 2015 and February 2016. Data was analyzed using univariate and bivariate statistical analysis and overall shared space performance was quantified using the Karndacharuk (2014) Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) index. The behavioural analysis revealed that the majority of pedestrian movements transpired outside the vehicle path and road space. Contiguous land uses were an important predictor of road user behaviour, as higher frequencies of pedestrians crossing the vehicle path were positively correlated with higher densities of commercial uses. Regression analysis calculated that vehicle path crossings were also a statistically significant predictor of vehicle speeds and interaction occurrences with vehicles. During interaction occurrences with vehicles, pedestrians were deemed to have priority. Regarding shared space performance, Granville Island managed both pedestrian and driver mobility effectively. Calculated performance in the Place function was substandard, as shared space design failed to inspire pedestrian reclamation of the street space. A key finding, the AHP index was recalibrated, enabling a custom, quantitative evaluation of pedestrian reclamation of road space on Granville Island. Results corroborated the importance of local traffic conditions noted in shared space literature. Future research should be undertaken to study the qualitative aspects of shared space on Granville Island, as well as an appraisal of street performance and road user behaviour under disparate conditions.

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.