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

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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.

Toward a more flexible form of Multi-Family Housing? Lock-off Units in Vancouver

Date created: 
2017-10-11
Abstract: 

This research study explores the interaction of planning policy and practice in the case of lock-off unit (LOU) policy in Vancouver, based on expert insight and market uptake, to explore the rationale and design process for including LOUs in new multi-family housing development. Using content analysis and qualitative interviews with planners, developers and architects, along with analysis of permit data, the study finds that this form of housing is found primarily in townhouses, with the LOU at the “basement” level, under the primary unit, and there are limited examples of LOUs in an apartment form. The research suggests that the potential flexibility offered by LOUs is closely linked to affordability, with the target market considered to be a couple or young family “upsizing” from a smaller condominium apartment. The design of LOUs is not completely open-ended or user-led, but the flexibility offered by LOUs has a potential role to play in providing a new form of multi-family housing. The findings in this paper will be useful to urban planners, architects and developers, and to policy makers and other participants in the fields of housing policy, planning and design.

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.

Urban Regimes and Election Finance: The Impact of Campaign Contributions on Electoral Outcomes

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-04-05
Abstract: 

The tenets of urban regime and growth machine theories suppose that corporate elites have an outsized influence over the municipal decision-making process. Clarence Stone and Harvey Molotch state that relationships between the business community and policy makers exist to advance economic development, creating an informal arrangement that has a significant impact on the evolution of cities. However, neither Stone nor Molotch explain how the power and influence of the business elite is exercised on the ground. This thesis looks at the role campaign contributions play in electoral outcomes and examines the following question: what impact does money have on electoral success in municipal politics and who benefits from the current campaign finance paradigm? Using quantitative analysis of data culled from financial disclosure documents from the 2014 civic elections in Metro Vancouver, this thesis is able determine that campaign contributions and spending haves a significant impact on electoral success. Funds have been categorized into donor groupings, making it possible to determine which types of contributors, be they individuals, labour groups, developers or corporate interests, have the best outcomes for the candidates they support. Key findings: Regression analysis shows that both campaign contributions and campaign spending haves a significant impact on vote totals, particularly in the early stages. For example, the first $1,000 in spending or donations correlates corresponds with the highest increase in the number of ballots cast for a given candidate, while the impact money has on vote totals decreases as contributions and donations increase. The thesis also examines the role incumbency plays in electoral success and demonstrates how corporate regimes use their financial resources to influence policy makers and electoral outcomes. 

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.

Moving targets: Mobilities, sustainability and space on Vancouver’s streets

Date created: 
2017-03-27
Abstract: 

This project explores the politics of mobility in Vancouver, as expressed through debate over the allocation, configuration and use of street space. Using a mobilities framework to explore the social relationships embodied within these choices about the allocation of physical movement of people within cities, this research consists of two in-depth case studies of commercial streets in Vancouver that have been the subject of recent neighbourhood plans. The project uses multiple qualitative methods, including document analysis, in-depth interviews and contextual observation, to locate a complex and sometimes contradictory discourse around mobility policies in Vancouver. Sustainability targets that rhetorically call for a reduction in automobile use are not realized in the actual interventions made to street space; instead, more symbolic measures are pursued that leave the social relationships of auto mobility unchallenged. A deliberate re politicization of mobility spaces is required to achieve a more intentional, sustainability and equity-focused distribution of urban mobility.

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.

Sharing space on Granville Island: An assessment of shared street performance

Date created: 
2016-11-30
Abstract: 

Shared space, or shared streets, is an urban design approach encouraging pedestrians and drivers to share a common surface by minimizing segregation features. Advocates contend that the concept generates extensive social, cultural and economic benefits. Scholarship investigating schemes and purported benefits have been limited primarily to European and New Zealand applications. Identifying the need to study shared space operations in the Canadian context, this research offers a quantitative evaluation of road user behaviour and shared street performance on Granville Island in Vancouver, Canada. Utilizing video survey, data was collected at three diverse sample sites between December 2015 and February 2016. Data was analyzed using univariate and bivariate statistical analysis and overall shared space performance was quantified using the Karndacharuk (2014) Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) index. The behavioural analysis revealed that the majority of pedestrian movements transpired outside the vehicle path and road space. Contiguous land uses were an important predictor of road user behaviour, as higher frequencies of pedestrians crossing the vehicle path were positively correlated with higher densities of commercial uses. Regression analysis calculated that vehicle path crossings were also a statistically significant predictor of vehicle speeds and interaction occurrences with vehicles. During interaction occurrences with vehicles, pedestrians were deemed to have priority. Regarding shared space performance, Granville Island managed both pedestrian and driver mobility effectively. Calculated performance in the Place function was substandard, as shared space design failed to inspire pedestrian reclamation of the street space. A key finding, the AHP index was recalibrated, enabling a custom, quantitative evaluation of pedestrian reclamation of road space on Granville Island. Results corroborated the importance of local traffic conditions noted in shared space literature. Future research should be undertaken to study the qualitative aspects of shared space on Granville Island, as well as an appraisal of street performance and road user behaviour under disparate conditions.

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.

Contribution of Neighbourhood Parks to Physical Activity: A Case Study of Sunrise Park, East Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-12-01
Abstract: 

This research is focused on the type of usage of Sunrise Park, located in a lower income neighbourhood in East Vancouver, for physical activity. This study focuses on the factors that influence the usage of Sunrise Park such as: park features, park conditions, safety concerns, the weather, the time, and gender considerations. The methodology of this study has been a mixed method approach, including a residential survey, park user interviews, park observations, and interviews with Vancouver Park Board key planners and commissioners. Results demonstrate that weather conditions and time of day affect the usage and the level of physical activity in this park. It seems that open areas, scenic views, and seating areas are more influential on the usage of this park. Males were more frequent users and also more involved in vigorous physical activity than females. The usage of this park for physical activity can be encouraged by providing walking paths and fitness equipment.

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

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.