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

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“Don’t let a good disaster go to waste”: Investigating emergent desires for urban resilience at the City of Calgary

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-02-28
Abstract: 

This study is about urban resilience as an emergent concept at the City of Calgary in the wake of several significant crises. It looks at how the crises affected institutional operations, and whether the changes in operations principles conformed to a theoretically robust conceptualization of urban resilience. Using a mixed methods approach of document analysis and key informant interviews, I examine City staff’s desires for a more proactive approach to infrastructure and operations decision-making processes and identify major gaps and tensions in their understanding and use of urban resilience concepts. I present evidence that city staff’s vague resilience definitions and priorities conflict with other tensions within the bureaucracy and contribute to the justification and entrenchment of status quo operations. This research contributes to our knowledge of the challenges of navigating resilience concepts and planning for urban resilience at the municipal level.

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

An ex post facto evaluation of a Metro Vancouver Transportation Plan

Date created: 
2018-03-27
Abstract: 

Plans ought to be evaluated upon completion to determine their impacts and the reasons for success or failure. With this information, future planning efforts can be improved. Accordingly, this thesis offers an ex post facto evaluation of Metro Vancouver’s Transport 2021 medium-range transportation plan to determine its effectiveness and recommend how to improve future plans. In 1993, this plan recommended regional transportation policies and projects for the horizon year of 2006. Using a mixed-methods approach adapted from Laurian et al., the plan’s logic, implementation, and outcomes were examined, and factors affecting the results were considered. Although the plan proved technically capable of meeting its goals, it was not an effective plan, as it was only partially implemented, and its goals were not fully achieved. I identified factors that limited the implementation and outcomes, including politics and a failure to achieve the goals of the related land-use plan.

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.

Community Centred: The Impact of Relationship-Based Fundraising on Strathcona Community Centre

Date created: 
2018-01-23
Abstract: 

This project explores the impact of neoliberal funding on non-profit organizations. Framed by relevant literature on current funding models, community development and social capital, this research consists of an in-depth case study of the Strathcona Community Centre Association in order to contextualize and understand that organization’s success at generating revenue through relationship-based fundraising. The project uses a mixed methods approach, including document analysis and interviews with key informants. The organization’s reputation and longstanding commitment to community development are key to the Strathcona Community Centre’s fundraising success, however the particular historical, geographic and demographic context within which it is located means that this model is not replicable. Furthermore, the need to focus large amounts of time and energy on precarious, short-term sources of funding perpetuates the cycle of financial instability and organizational vulnerability.

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.

Strategically planning for parking: An inquiry into parking requirements for laneway houses in Vancouver

Date created: 
2018-03-16
Abstract: 

This study investigates the alignment between Vancouver’s strategic plans and the uniquely low parking requirement for its laneway housing policy. Parking requirements, a long-standing tool to create parking alongside housing, are purported to be a relic of automobile-centric, density-shy planning. But they remain a politically convenient and thus entrenched approach, offering a straightforward ‘bring-your-own-parking’ standard that shifts the responsibility for abundant street parking onto new residents. The perpetuation of parking minima in Vancouver is found to be politically motivated: ad hoc incrementalism and compromise are preferred as more pragmatic than implementing stated objectives boldly and without compromise. Officials speculate that this approach was necessary to make laneway housing acceptable to existing residents, suggesting that, paradoxically, parking requirements can present both opportunity and barriers for infill housing. The study recommends more data, public dialogue, and transparency in the translation of strategic policy into regulatory policy.

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 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.