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

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Public life in Minoru Park: Community connection in Richmond's city centre

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-13
Abstract: 

This project examines interactions and encounters in a public park in order to better understand how seemingly ordinary activities may influence and potentially foster feelings of connection among urbanites. With increasing numbers of people moving into urban areas and rapid population increases in previously suburban cities, cultural, societal, and situational norms may be challenged as new ways of being are introduced. In many places, urban residents are reporting increased feelings of disconnection from their neighbours. The sociability of public spaces has been the subject of discussion not only within the academic literature but also among residents and local media outlets in places like Richmond, BC. In Richmond, as in many other cities, terms such as intercultural harmony and community connection are used to envision an ideal state of relations between residents of rapidly growing urban centres. But to what extent are these ideals being realized, or commonly understood, in urban settings? This ethnographically based examination of day-to-day encounters in Minoru Park in Richmond’s city centre explores how people are using the park and the ways in which connections with unknown others are perceptibly fostered (or deterred). The findings from this particular study also enable an assessment of the capacity of the existing literature on social interactions in urban public spaces to account adequately for observed social interactions in places such as Minoru Park.

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

Housing affordability within complete communities: A descriptive case study of Metrotown Town Centre

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-03-22
Abstract: 

The 1976 Livable Region Strategy outlined a vision for the Metro Vancouver region which would focus development and growth on strategically placed Regional Town Centres. Metrotown, a community in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, was one of four initial Regional Town Centres created as part of the 1976 Livable Region Strategy. Over the next 40 years Metrotown emerged as one of the most developed Regional Town Centres outside of Vancouver’s Downtown Core. Part of the reason for Metrotown’s success as a Regional Town Centre is the City of Burnaby’s commitment to developing Metrotown as a complete community. Metrotown is a community known for its high-density urban form, access to high quality rapid transit, and being well serviced by community amenities. However, I argue in this thesis that one aspect of the complete community ideal has been lost in Burnaby’s pursuit of creating a complete community at Metrotown, and that is the concept of housing affordability. I argue further that this disconnect between housing affordability and complete community principles at Metrotown has resulted in the displacement of residents through demovictions.In this research I use quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze how Metrotown performs as a community that embodies housing affordability and complete community principles. I then use these methods to illustrate how the disconnect between housing affordability and complete communities at Metrotown has been occurring. I arrive at the conclusion that, at the turn of the millennium, Burnaby began along a path of development for Metrotown that laid the foundation for Metrotown’s explosive growth we see today. This growth, however, has come at the cost of housing affordability in the community and the displacement of renters through the process of demovictions across Metrotown. My research will be useful as a case study for urban planners and academics interested in the housing affordability outcomes of urban intensification schemes like complete communities. My research is also applicable to communities that are similar to Metrotown where difficult social and political decisions must be made to balance development and growth pressures while preserving affordable rental housing stock.

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

Mobility pricing in Metro Vancouver: Implementing a decongestion charge in the region

Date created: 
2019-03-06
Abstract: 

The first Mobility pricing strategy for Metro Vancouver is been evaluated with the purpose of reducing traffic congestion in the region, addressing gaps in funding for transportation infrastructure, and ensuring an equitable system. The Mobility Pricing Independent Commission published the Metro Vancouver Mobility Pricing Study in May 2018. This report summarizes the findings and recommendation for a mobility pricing policy in the form of a decongestion charging scheme. To inform the next phases of the Commission’s study, and potential implementation of the decongestion charge in the region, this thesis conducts a case study analysis of the implementation of congestion charge in London, Stockholm and Edinburgh. Key implementation factors such as transportation governance, political implications, public processes and equity, are analyzed and applied to the Metro Vancouver context

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

Energy utopia: Vancouver's neighbourhood energy strategy

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-01-23
Abstract: 

This study explores the barriers faced by the City of Vancouver in implementing its Neighbourhood Energy Strategy (2012). Through a case study of the Creative Energy Central Heat district energy system, I explore the challenges the City of Vancouver had in operationalizing this policy. The conceptual framework for this study utilizes the concepts of energy justice, remunicipalization and path dependency. These concepts facilitate an exploration of the intricacies and multiplicities of the challenges faced by the City of Vancouver, chiefly the provincial regulatory process with the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC). With the assistance of the conceptual framework, I find that the BCUC’s stated mission of providing equal access to safe, economical and sustainable energy was in conflict with the City of Vancouver’s proposed agreement with Creative Energy. I also find that ownership was a significant factor in the challenges faced by the City, as Creative Energy’s private ownership subjected the agreement between the City of Vancouver and Creative Energy to the Provincial regulation. Finally, I find that resistance to new technology and methods challenged the agreement, as evidenced by statements provided by interveners in the regulatory process. These findings provide insights about the enactment of district energy policy for other municipalities seeking to enable GHG reductions through the provision for new district energy systems or through fuel switches of existing district energy systems.

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

What Does Food Sovereignty Mean to the Homalco Community?

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-05
Abstract: 

Colonization and urbanization have had devastating impacts on Indigenous food systems, the repercussions of which are still salient today. However, research shows that food sovereignty has the potential to strengthen Indigenous communities and improve health outcomes. This thesis explores how the idea of food sovereignty is conceptualized by the Homalco Nation in the city of Campbell River and what opportunities and barriers exist in realizing this model of food sovereignty. For this research, I engaged in open-ended conversations with Homalco community members in order to hear their food stories. Participants’ stories demonstrated the significance of land, specific foods, customs and values for Homalco food sovereignty and served to highlight key barriers and opportunities relating to this conceptualization of food sovereignty. This research contributes to the larger body of literature surrounding urban Indigenous food sovereignty by providing insight into what this idea may look like at the community level.

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

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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
Peter V. Hall
Nicolas Kenny
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Urb.