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

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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.

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.