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

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Short-term consequences: Investigating the extent, nature and rental housing implications of Airbnb listings in Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-09-08
Abstract: 

Airbnb is a private corporation founded in 2008 that earns revenue by facilitating short-term rentals of residential property. Using listing data collected from Airbnb’s website with a web-scraping script over a 12-month period and secondary data on the city’s rental housing stock and housing policies, this study quantifies the extent and nature of Airbnb listings in the City of Vancouver and analyzes the implications of that information for the city’s rental housing policy goals. Among the author’s findings are that Airbnb listings grew by 63 percent over the study period, were composed mainly of entire-unit listings and were concentrated in the areas with the most long-term rental housing. The author concludes that the unregulated growth of Airbnb undermines the city’s ability to achieve its housing goals. This study will be of interest to policy-makers in cities that, like Vancouver, are both appealing to tourists and facing shortages of affordable housing.

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

Grassroots Groups and Local Government: Exploring the Dynamics Between the Coquitlam Farmers Market and City of Coquitlam

Date created: 
2016-09-29
Abstract: 

This study investigates the history of the Coquitlam Farmers Market (CFM) as it established itself in Coquitlam in 1996. This project is an examination of citizen-led, bottom-up city building in a neoliberal and suburban context. Through six in-depth interviews with CFM leaders and City of Coquitlam (City) staff this project explores dynamics in the collaboration between the CFM and the City. This study finds that the CFM and the City hold different assumptions regarding public participation in city building, which leads to both cooperation and challenges in their work together. These dynamics are unpacked by exploring a series of conceptual, spatial, and relational factors. This project contributes to better understandings of the often contentious relationships between grassroots community groups and local governments.

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.

Community, Space and Perception of Insecurity: The Case of One Urban Community Garden Project in Lima, Peru

Date created: 
2016-09-13
Abstract: 

Insecurity is perceived to be the number one problem in Lima, Peru. In this study I examine the case of one community garden project that has been claimed to have had a positive impact on security in the marginalized neighbourhood of VMT in Lima. I used an ethnographic approach and an analytical framework based on two established theories of crime prevention to identify possible elements of the garden project that may be impacting perceptions of insecurity among members of the community. The findings of this study do not support the claims regarding the positive impact of community gardens on security. I found that the elements of crime prevention which were present had a very limited effect on reducing fear of crime in the study area. However, my findings point out at areas for future study.

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.

Neighbourhood Planning and Community Support for New Multi-Family Housing Projects in Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-06-28
Abstract: 

This research study investigates community support and concerns for new multi-family housing projects in Vancouver. It examines the approaches that planners and developers use at the neighbourhood planning and development application stage to increase community support and mitigate concerns for new multi-family housing projects. The research also suggests new approaches and strategies that planners and developers could take to increase community support and mitigate concerns for new multi-family housing projects. The key findings of this study indicate that housing affordability, the height of buildings, community amenities, design, community character, and parking/traffic concerns are the main issues that arise in the discussions regarding support for and opposition towards new multi-family housing developments in Vancouver. This paper discusses the importance of early and frequent community engagement, Community Plans (neighbourhood planning), and developer contributions (community amenities) to achieving community support and mitigating concerns for new multi-family housing projects. However, this paper also reveals that policies related to improving housing affordability and providing community amenities can result in polarizing viewpoints within the community. Further clarity, accountability, and education regarding how community amenities and new housing are delivered is needed for both market housing and affordable housing. The study also finds that planners and developers should continue to enhance community engagement techniques to build community support and improve multi-family housing project outcomes. The lessons learned and recommendations provided in this paper add to the body of literature on smart growth and on the “barriers” to developing new housing in transit-oriented locations. The findings in this paper will be useful to planners and developers, as well as to other related stakeholders who work in the fields of housing policy and transit-oriented development.

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.

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.