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

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Household Income Composition Changes with Rapid Transit Implementation: A Natural Experiment Study of SkyTrain, Metro Vancouver, 1981-2016

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-10-08
Abstract: 

Background—Rapid transit such as SkyTrain is beneficial to move people efficiently, reduce carbon emissions, and increase physical activity. However, these benefits attract new development resulting in rising housing prices that may consequently change the household income composition. Metro Vancouver has not skirted this phenomenon, with rapid population growth and signs of neighbourhood change near SkyTrain.

 

Research Question—Does the household income composition change in areas nearby new SkyTrain stations?

 

Hypothesis—After a new SkyTrain station opens, lower income households may initially have better access to rapid transit, but over time nearby areas shift towards higher income households. Methods and Procedures—This natural experiment study uses census data for Metro Vancouver census tracts (CTs) 1981–2016. Household income composition is measured using relative share of households (location quotient (LQ)) in three income categories. Exposed areas are within 1.6 km (20-min walk) of SkyTrain stations compared to the rest of the region. Spatial analysis visualizes geographic distributions using ArcGIS, and statistical analysis tests concepts with linear mixed effects models using R software.

 

Results—The study assesses 374 CTs in 17 municipalities and finds areas nearby new SkyTrain stations start with a larger relative share of lower income households at baseline (1981) but shift towards more affluence over time. The areas exposed to SkyTrain changed in relative share of households faster than unexposed areas by LQ= -0.024, -0.012, and 0.026 more for very low, lower, and high income households, respectively, per census year (every five years). This means the relative share of each income group changed by 1–3% more in exposed areas than unexposed areas over every five-year period or a total change of 8–18% more over the entire study period.

 

Conclusions—Future planning must consider SkyTrain does impact who lives in areas nearby and options to protect lower income housing with access to transit are needed.

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

The Rationale Behind Vancouver’s Bike Share Program: A Reflexive Exploration of the Program’s Goals, Fare Structure, and Bike Rental Relationship

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-07-15
Abstract: 

This research project explores the development of the Vancouver Public Bike Share (PBS) Program through an evaluative and Bourdieusian framework. It looks at the historical and political context in which different individuals and groups operated during the design of the PBS program. The primary concern of this project is the interplay between the political context and social equity considerations in relation to outcomes of PBS access by people with low income. Important topics of this research include program goals, equity, the development of the fare structure, competitiveness with the local bike rental industry, station placement in Stanley Park, and program evaluation. Using policy documents, interviews with key participants, and public system data, this project examines the explicit and implicit program goals for PBS while also providing a partial evaluation of the program. The project ends with a set of recommendations for the Vancouver Bike Share Program.

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

Lessons learned from the 2013 Calgary Flood: How to prepare for the next disaster

Date created: 
2018-11-08
Abstract: 

Urban centres are constantly exposed to natural hazards. Recovering from natural disasters is a complex process that lacks a grounded theory and an operational definition. This thesis proposed a two-layer conceptual framework that can be helpful when exploring the implementation of recovery efforts. This research project explores the municipal approach of the City of Calgary during the recovery from the 2013 Southern Alberta Flood. The City of Calgary responded to this flood in a partially effective manner. The Calgary case study is a case where the local government had in place the right processes to develop an effective recovery. Nevertheless, the City requires guidance on what a recovery plan should address. Calgary’s approach proposes challenges related to the development of meaningful public participation methods and the slight assistance provided to the business community. Recovery is an action that requires the involvement of the affected and relevant stakeholders to help build governance capacity, which in turn creates a resilient community.

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

The role of carsharing in urban mobility: relationship with human, spatial, and modal features in Metro Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-10-24
Abstract: 

Carsharing systems, by providing the opportunity to access a vehicle without having to own it, can be considered as a desirable component of sustainable transportation strategies. They represent the missing link in the multi-modal options of transport and a complement to public and active modes of transportation. Previous research demonstrated that carsharing systems can be successfully implemented only in certain urban contexts, with specific characteristics referred to the built environment and the people living in it. The objective of this research is to understand which of these features have an influence on the success of two-way and one-way carsharing in Metro Vancouver. The findings of this research showed that the usage of both two-way and one-way carsharing is strongly influenced by contextual features, including population density, car ownership, household size, and commuting modal choice. Also, availability and quality of public transit represents the most pivotal variable to ensure carsharing success. The research also provides deeper examination of the specific relationship between two-way carsharing and public transit.

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

City of opportunity: Powell River after the mill

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-09-28
Abstract: 

Powell River’s economic fortunes have been tied to the pulp and paper mill since the city’s founding in 1911. After nearly a century of assured work and revenue, the mill began to reduce operations, which had a negative impact on the city’s prosperity. The mayor of Powell River called together an Economic Revitalization Task Force in 2013, to create a plan for economic development in the city based on ideas put forward by him and the Powell River Regional Economic Development Society (PRREDS). The Task Force, composed of members of PRREDS, city councillors and citizens of Powell River, assessed the costs and benefits of those ideas, and developed concepts of their own, ultimately providing the city with a list of 85 activities to pursue. This thesis explores the background of the city and the Task Force, and examines the social and economic environment that led to the final recommendations.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Peter V. Hall
Nicolas Kenny
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Urb.

Learning from LoLo: neighbourhood sustainable development in the City of North Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-10-05
Abstract: 

This research investigates the integration of policies, processes and priorities in planning for sustainable development. Following case-study methodology at the neighbourhood scale in the City of North Vancouver, assessment and governance frameworks are used to understand planning for sustainable development and its outcomes. The findings uncovered rigorous planning processes that prioritized form-based planning alongside a systematic pursuit of public amenities. This was complemented with policies requiring sustainability focused items. Together these contributed to a LEED-ND comparable neighbourhood which was achieved in the absence of any 3rd party neighbourhood assessment frameworks. Other findings included: a purposively opportunistic planning practice that avoided structured assessment or monitoring; a planning process and governance arrangement that relied on a shared understanding of sustainability amongst City staff; and facilitation through leadership and a supportive political regime. The research highlights the risk and opportunity associated with the political nature of governing for sustainable development without assessment frameworks and emphasizes the importance of leadership, policy frameworks, and corporate culture.

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

Mapping daily mobility in Metro Vancouver: an ethnography of regional transportation for newcomers studying within the service industry

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-09-14
Abstract: 

This project explores the everyday travel of a small set of newcomers studying within the hospitality industry in Metro Vancouver. Using ethnographic methods of interviewing, exercises of ‘mental mapping’ and travelling together, each participant’s respective travel scenario is examined as an individual case study. This research seeks to provide an understanding about the set of strategies and tactics that are used to realize participants’ distinctive mobility needs and the role of daily transportation as a component of settlement in the Metro Vancouver region.

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

The age of engagement in Vancouver’s independent theatre sector

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-09-19
Abstract: 

This research focuses on the prioritizing of community engagement in arts and culture policy and production, specifically within Vancouver’s independent theatre sector. It concerns itself equally with how artists and policy makers define community engagement, how it is operationalized in art making and what impact the policy is having on the funding, creation and consumption of art in the urban environment. Using document analysis, interviews with a senior executive at the British Columbia Arts Council and case studies of three Vancouver based independent theatre organizations, I identify operational gaps in how community engagement policy was implemented and administered, continued uncertainty in how community engagement is defined by artists, a resulting financial precarity for some, but not all, individuals and organizations operating in the sector and some of the ways community engagement has impacted aesthetic choices. This study hopes to add to our understanding of how policy and creative practice intersect.

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

Twenty years of car sharing: a case study on the city of Vancouver’s role in the growth of car sharing in Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-05-23
Abstract: 

This thesis explores the City of Vancouver’s role in supporting the growth of car sharing in Vancouver from 1997 to 2016. In December 2016, Vancouver had the highest number of car share members and vehicles in a single city across North America. Using a mixed methods approach, City documents and interviews are used to assess the impact that City policies have had on the development of this mobility service. The research found that City policies, including the provision of permit and dedicated onstreet parking, parking incentives for new developments and incorporating car share vehicles into the City’s fleet have had the greatest impact in supporting car share growth in terms of members and usage. The thesis concludes that the City of Vancouver has strongly supported the growth of car sharing; however, given the absence of a broader car sharing planning framework, existing policies remain disconnected. City car share policies that were introduced in the 2000s should be updated to incorporate advances in technology: autonomous driving, fleet electrification, and ride sharing. More robust terms of measurement would also improve the City’s opportunity to leverage positive outcomes that car sharing brings, such as a reduction in private vehicle ownership and use.

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

Connecting to opportunity: The urban mobility and everyday survival of youths transitioning from government care in Metro Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-23
Abstract: 

In Metro Vancouver, youths transitioning from government care are routinely failing to become independent ‘adults’ and are struggling to secure housing, access resources, and develop the requisite life skills and education needed to gain greater financial security over time. Unlike their parented peers, whose familial support network allows them to rebound or ‘boomerang’ in the face of failure, these youths are continually at risk of homelessness and other adverse conditions. By using the mobility concept of 'tacking,' this ethnographic study examines the everyday experiences of seven Metro Vancouver youths from government care, as they navigate through challenges, obtain resources, and seize opportunities in a Canadian urban setting. This study adds to the field of urban studies and mobilities research by providing insight into the survival tactics of this marginalized category of young people who exist in cities across the world.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Noel Dyck
Peter V. Hall
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Urb.