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

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Coalitional politics in the development of Vancouver’s Chinatown from 2000 to 2019

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-12-06
Supervisor(s): 
Karen Ferguson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Urb.
Abstract: 

This project tracks the shift in development and neighbourhood planning policy in Vancouver’s Chinatown from 2000 to 2019. Using concepts from policy studies and Pierre Bourdieu’s theories of class and group formation, it explores the conditions and degree of the policy change, and provides preliminary assessments of the durability of the change. During this period, there was a substantive shift in planning goals and primary policy tools from a focus on economic revitalization to a concern with preserving intangible heritage. This shift was driven by the arrival of a cohort of young, educated, Chinese-Canadian adults – part of a broader demographic phenomenon – whose work to stop a prominent development proposal fomented a restructuring of the neighbourhood’s political coalitions and reframing of political discourse around concerns of social justice and cultural preservation. Within this political context, key policy entrepreneurs were able to link the political upheaval and reframed policy concerns with the pursuit of UNESCO World Heritage Designation as a new organizing policy objective for Chinatown’s neighbourhood planning.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

The role of the City of Vancouver in addressing childcare availability

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-10-15
Supervisor(s): 
Karen Ferguson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Urb.
Abstract: 

Like many cities across Canada, the City of Vancouver has a significant shortage of licensed childcare. Although childcare is primarily funded and regulated by the provinces, staff and officials at the City of Vancouver have, to a greater extent than most other local governments in British Columbia, made long-standing efforts to facilitate the creation of childcare spaces. My study uses key informant interviews and document analysis to understand the strategies that Vancouver’s officials have used to address licensed childcare availability, the motivations behind the city’s active approach, and the outcomes therein. My findings suggest that, in the historical absence of adequate provincial and federal support, City of Vancouver officials intervened in an area of social services that is officially the responsibility of senior governments. Although these efforts have not solved Vancouver’s childcare availability issues on their own, my study suggests that local governments can play important roles in creating childcare spaces through the use of partnership development, advocacy, investment and planning.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

Embodied fear, perceived safety and transit-based mobility among women of color in Metro Vancouver

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-12-06
Supervisor(s): 
Leanne Roderick
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Urb.
Abstract: 

This study presents the stories shared by five students at Simon Fraser University who identify as women of color, regarding their fear of harassment or violence and perceptions of safety while navigating public transit systems in Metro Vancouver. Using qualitative methods and the Body Map Storytelling exercise, this study examines how female bodies of color encounter unique threats to their safety in transit spaces due to social prejudices and the impacts of such threats upon their decisions regarding public transit usage. These stories provide an understanding about how women of color navigating public transit systems in Metro Vancouver encounter obstructions to mobility justice in their day-to-day commutes. This study advocates the use of mobility justice frameworks and alternative research methods to understand the urban mobilities of women of color in Metro Vancouver and promotes intersectional, feminist approaches to the planning and implementation of transportation strategies in urban regions in Canada.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

Crisis intimacies: The dialectics of shared housing

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-05-17
Supervisor(s): 
Noel Dyck
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Urb.
Abstract: 

This project explores the formation and negotiation of shared households among renters in the City of Vancouver as a response to the ongoing housing crisis. Building on previous scholarship which emphasizes how structural and contextual forces can shape housing choices and conditions, the study offers a glimpse into the lives of roommates as they navigate and cope with living in households that are often formed out of necessity, posing interesting challenges to the experience of housing and being-at-home. Roommate renters are made to dwell in spaces built and designed for nuclear families, further complicating the experience of living together, in addition to grappling with insecure tenancies due to the lack of recognition of these types of households in city bylaws and provincial residential tenancy laws. Using urban ethnographic methods and interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks, shared households are revealed as spaces of both crisis and intimacy, containing within them contradictory encounters and tensions, while at the same time laying bare moments of skillfulness, creativity, and care as roommates engage in a constant process of learning how to live together.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

Off-leash dog parks: Not just for dogs

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-07-22
Supervisor(s): 
Noel Dyck
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Urb.
Abstract: 

This project examines dog owners’ and non dog owners’ use of an off-leash urban dog park to learn how such public space is used and by whom. As cities densify, the challenges of defining public and private space and of ensuring space for all users will intensify. Given these limitations, why should public land be devoted to dogs and their owners? This ethnographically based project contributes to answering that question by observing and analyzing the role off-leash dog parks play in facilitating social interactions between dogs, dog owners, and others. While the role of urban parks in facilitating such interactions has been widely researched and positively reported upon, the social role and usage of off-leash dog parks has been less studied. Off-leash dog parks, as a particular type of setting, provide a distinctive venue in which dog owners, dogs, and other visitors may shape varied yet satisfying interactions.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

Exploring perspectives: Vancouver street-style skateboarders in urban public space and beyond

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-08-06
Supervisor(s): 
Noel Dyck
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Urb.
Abstract: 

This is an ethnographic project that explores the articulation by urban communities of ways of using public space by examining how and why people skateboard in Vancouver. By conducting semi-structured interviews and employing the use of photovoice, this research project discusses the perspectives of skateboarders to discover the motivations behind their interactions with urban space. This project is contextualized by highlighting the historic process of skateboarding in the urban realm, and the design and development of the skatepark as purpose-built public space intended for skateboarding. The purpose and meaning of the skatepark and other urban spaces is identified by participants using verbal (semi-structured interviews) and visual (photovoice) methods, and analyzed using a place-attachment framework. This study discusses the narratives of street-style skateboarders in Vancouver to tell a story about interactions with the urban environment.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

Vancouver’s young professionals and the impacts of their financial challenges

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-01-25
Supervisor(s): 
Karen Ferguson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Urb.
Abstract: 

This research study explores the financial-related challenges impacting young professionals in the City of Vancouver. It approaches the topic from a life course perspective, considering how the financial-related challenges are interacting with life course milestones and adult role transitions. Qualitative interviewing is used to explore the experiences of eight young professionals living in Vancouver. Results from interviewing help to illuminate what financial and economic challenges come with being a young professional living in the City of Vancouver and what impacts the challenges are having in their lives.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

More than a place of worship: Resilience through social capital in the Korean church during the COVID-19 pandemic

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-07-21
Supervisor(s): 
Aude-Claire Fourot
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Urb.
Abstract: 

In an urban context, the immigrant church is not only a place of worship, but it is also a community hub, a cultural center, and a social gathering place. When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March 2020, there began a ripple effect of economic, social and mental health impacts. This study explores the use of social capital at three Korean immigrant churches in the Greater Toronto Area and Metro Vancouver to demonstrate community resilience. This research explores how and what kinds of supports were provided between the leadership and congregation, as well as between congregant-to-congregant. Although the physical locations were closed, the communications infrastructure and social relationships that existed prior to COVID were instrumental in sustaining a support network for Korean churchgoers during the pandemic. The immigrant church is a valuable urban asset that cities ought to support and partner with for future shock and stress events.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

Understanding sense of community in a master planned community in Richmond's Oval Village

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-04-29
Supervisor(s): 
Meg Holden
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Urb.
Abstract: 

This research is aimed at understanding sense of community among residents of a master planned community in Richmond’s Oval Village. In particular, my research investigates how affordable housing tenants of Cadence perceive the quality of their social interaction with others and their feeling of sense of community. A mixed-method approach consisting of an online survey and semi-structured phone interviews was chosen as the research design with the affordable housing tenants of Cadence to capture their experience living in a mixed-income development. Ten affordable housing tenants completed the survey and 7 of them participated in the follow-up interview. Key informant interviews were conducted with the housing operator as well as the City of Richmond staff members to supplement the findings from the tenant survey and interviews. In addition to filling the knowledge gap around whether master planned communities foster positive social interaction and sense of community among residents, especially in the context of a Canadian suburban city, I hope my research findings will help inform planners how mixed-income housing can be improved in terms of design and implementation to ensure it is socially inclusive and equitable for all.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

Permission to be loud: Struggling with urban development contradictions in the Vancouver Music Strategy

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-04-22
Supervisor(s): 
Eugene McCann
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Urb.
Abstract: 

The Vancouver Music Strategy seeks to prescribe a framework for supporting the local music ecosystem. A top priority is to increase the accessibility and affordability of publicly and privately owned spaces for those historically underrepresented in the city’s commercial music industry. The strategy also focuses on how music complements tech- and innovation-focused redevelopment projects in neighbourhoods with affordable rehearsal, studio and performance spaces. This research was guided by the question, how does the Vancouver Music Strategy seek to reconcile the apparent contradictions of urban economic development and spatial justice that are embedded within it? Findings highlight a persistent disconnection between broader development goals and residents experiencing the disappearance of the city’s musical backbone. Urban economic development and spatial justice are not sufficiently reconciled, despite a righteous appeal to social equity and planned City-sanctioned spaces. For many, a sense of belonging, socio-economic diversity, and the sound of Vancouver is at stake.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project