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

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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.

The effect of innovation on income inequality in Canadian cities

Date created: 
2016-01-07
Abstract: 

This research explores the effect of innovation on income inequality in Canadian metropolitan areas from 1991 to 2011. The analysis has been done through regression analyses on the income and employment data obtained from long form Canadian census and National Household Survey micro-data. The results show that the positive correlation between innovation and income inequality in Canadian city-regions grew from 2001 to 2011; however, there was no correlation between them in 1990s. Among three parameters that were used as a measure of innovation in this research (ratio of employment in Knowledge-Intensive Business Services (KIBS), high-tech occupations and high-tech industries), the ratio of employment in KIBS has the most significant effect. Moreover, cities with a high rate of KIBS activities have a higher level of within-industry income inequality, that is, between high-tech occupations and other employees within the same industry.

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.

District energy and sustainable neighbourhood planning: A study of the Burnaby Mountain District Energy System

Date created: 
2016-01-06
Abstract: 

In this thesis I answer the research question: what barriers were faced in the implementation of the Burnaby Mountain District Energy System, and what was the role of the SFU Community Trust in overcoming these barriers? I base this analysis on the typology of barriers to district energy implementation in Canada as suggested by the Canadian District Energy Association. I bring in ideas from community energy planning and governance of sustainable development in understanding the role of the SFU Community Trust in realizing this neighbourhood-scale and capital-intensive effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the urban built environment of the UniverCity community in Burnaby, British Columbia. While I find that the SFU Community Trust was not responsible for reducing all barriers faced in the implementation of this district energy system, their significant leadership role in shaping the normative, cognitive, imaginary and regulative aspects of the institutional framework surrounding UniverCity’s development enabled the implementation of the Burnaby Mountain District Energy System in 2012.

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.

The politics of Seattle's $15 minimum wage

Date created: 
2015-12-15
Abstract: 

Why did the City of Seattle pass a citywide minimum wage ordinance, increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour from the Washington state minimum wage of $9.47 per hour? This is an inquiry into the political workings of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage from both a policy perspective and a political activism perspective. I conducted an analysis of documents and public hearing videos from the City of Seattle and media documents on the ordinance to better understand the policy history surrounding the ordinance. I also conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with political actors involved in either activism or policymaking for the ordinance. I found that there were three crucial elements that worked together to create the Seattle minimum wage: Keynesian rhetoric, the election of City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, and political activism for a $15 minimum wage, with political activism working as a catalyst for the other elements.

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.

Transformative planning practice and urban Indigenous governance in Vancouver, British Columbia

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015-12-17
Abstract: 

A majority of legislation, policies and research about Indigenous rights in Canada has taken place at the federal and provincial levels. However, there is very little understanding about Indigenous rights in urban contexts. Nevertheless, over half of Indigenous people in Canada live in cities, making it necessary to gain a better understanding of how municipal governance can recognize Indigenous rights. Urban and regional planning is central to addressing Indigenous rights in cities because of the profession’s significant role in land acquisition and ability to influence social, cultural and political control. But because planning has been instrumental to the dispossession of Indigenous peoples, it raises the question of whether the same professional tools could or should be used in an effort to undo the oppression and neglect of Indigenous peoples. This thesis aims to understand what specific transformative planning practices are potential approaches for improved urban Indigenous governance. This study investigates the practices of non-Indigenous planning professionals that urban Indigenous non-profit organizations in Vancouver have identified as being effective in furthering their organizations’ goals. I seek to answer two questions. First, what are the planning practices of these non-Indigenous planners that make them effective according to the Indigenous people they work with? Second, how do these practices connect to designing urban Indigenous governance with the purpose of incorporating and expressing Indigenous rights in cities? By exploring these questions this thesis hopes to uncover what future planning efforts are called for to expand Indigenous rights in the city.

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.

Housing Preference in the Peri-urban Zone:The Prospects for Urban Containment and Smart Growth in North Cowichan

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-06-29
Abstract: 

This paper investigates the housing form and neighbourhood design preferences of residents of North Cowichan, a small community in the peri-urban zone between Victoria and Nanaimo, BC, Canada. Using a mixed methods approach, residential preferences among residents were documented in order to establish the degree to which they are consistent with the principles of smart growth and, thus, supportive of urban containment.The research finds that in general residents value privacy, separation from neighbours and independence above other residential characteristics, characteristics that are not consistent with traditional smart growth residential forms. However, there is a subset of the population, particularly among residents over fifty years of age, who want to live in more urbanized environments. This paper concludes that residential forms need to reflect the values of privacy and independence in order draw more people into denser forms of housing and toward urban cores.

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

Seedstock: a community currency in Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-04-30
Abstract: 

This project explores Seedstock, a community currency based on the Community Way model. Seedstock founders demonstrate a commitment to advance social change using education to drive the uptake and use of a community currency. A conceptual framework is constructed to explore values behind exchanges by critiquing current economic theories and arguing for community currencies’ ability to generate positive change. Stakeholders were interviewed to reveal the story behind Seedstock. My findings indicate that it is not yet time to determine its success or failure and suggest that educational efforts required to communicate a relatively unknown and complicated concept were underestimated. Overall, miscalculated target audience, insufficient resources given over to communication and education resulted in a poor mix and slow uptake by local businesses, and low engagement by non-profits. The story of Seedstock demonstrates the values and risks of applying ‘small is beautiful’ economics in a contemporary urban setting like Vancouver.

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

The greater good: Integration in a surplus food management system

Date created: 
2015-02-25
Abstract: 

This study explores surplus food management in the City of Vancouver, including the organizations involved, how it behaves as a system, and opportunities for optimizing the system. The analysis incorporates environmental policy integration, systems thinking for sustainable development, food systems planning, and approaches to food security. Data collection included eight semi-structured interviews with individuals familiar with surplus food management, a review of literature and information from various organizations’ websites, and my personal experience volunteering with a food redistributor. Results showed that the surplus food management system has developed organically, seemingly serving the needs of organizations involved. However, financial constraints, agenda conflicts, and ineffective relationship management are hurdles to reducing food waste and ensuring that people in need receive nutritious foods. To begin to improve surplus food management, an intermediary is proposed, which would ensure that there is sufficient capacity to use surplus food appropriately and mediate relationships among participating organizations.

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

Mortgaging the Future: the Financialization of Affordable Housing in Canada, 1984-2008

Date created: 
2014-12-03
Abstract: 

This project provides a policy history of the ideological and structural factors that underpinned the transformation of federal affordable housing policy in Canada from 1984 to 2008. Emerging out the subsidy-based Keynesian housing programs of the 1970s, the federal government began to construct a new ‘financialized’ approach to affordable housing in the 1980s centered on the mortgage insurance and securitization operations of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Canada’s federal housing agency. This new approach to housing policy was fully consolidated by the end of the 1990s and was one factor contributing to affordability problems and growing indebtedness in Canada’s metropolitan centres over the 2000s. New mortgage insurance products and securitization programs, the key pieces of financialized housing policy, incentivized financial institutions to lend mortgage credit to households over the 2000s, which in turn helped drive demand and competition for homes in urban housing markets. The project argues that in the 1980s and 90s political and economic structures were the main factor prompting the restructuring of affordable housing policy, but that over the 2000s restructuring became more dominated by the ideological belief that financial innovation and market competition could provide affordable housing for lower-income borrowers.

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

Democracy, Governance, and Metro Vancouver: Decision-Making and the Regional Growth Strategy

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-11-06
Abstract: 

Democracy at the scale of the city-region is obfuscated by multiple levels of government, lateral relationships between private and public actors, and decision-making that combines governance together with government. At this scale lines of accountability and decision-making are blurred. However, “new regionalism” combines government together with governance as a possible approach for cooperation and decision-making at the scale of the metropolitan region. This study reviews the extent to which the City of Burnaby and civil society organizations (CSOs) across Metro Vancouver influenced and shaped the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) ratified in 2011. The literature regarding “new regionalism” highlights two important features: 1) the possibility of including non-government organizations and/or private actors in decision-making and 2) consensus-based, collaborative, decision-making. An interpretive analysis reveals that both the City of Burnaby and civil society organizations were consulted and able to influence the Regional Growth Strategy. The multiple avenues available to local authorities to review the plan, including written submissions and participation on Metro Vancouver’s Technical Advisory Committee, enabled them to collaborate and deliberate with one another. Although they were consulted, CSOs were not empowered to collaborate with one another, or with local authorities as part of the process. Factors which limited the involvement of CSOs, and inhibited the exploration of alternative normative goals for the RGS, include Metro Vancouver’s institutional focus on consensus between member local authorities, the historical focus on sustainability in regional planning, and the more regulatory approach that was applied in the case of the RGS.

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