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

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An Examination of Government Street as a Green Street

Date created: 
2014-04-29
Abstract: 

This project examines the potential for Government Street to be transformed from a transportation focused major road to a multi-functional green street. Potential interventions are assessed through a green street lens with a focus on enhancement of Government Street’s environmental performance, walkability, identity and livability. A review of literature focused on green street concepts, an examination of physical conditions on Government Street, an analysis of relevant policy, and an exploration of case studies in Seattle and Portland are used to develop a design concept for Government Street. Findings indicate the study area is lacking in features that are associated with green streets, but significant potential exists for transformation based on physical conditions. The study suggests that meaningful green street interventions require a reduction of vehicle carrying capacity, to enable a significant increase in space for landscape elements, cycling facilities and pedestrian realm improvements. The proposed design seeks to redefine Government Street as a multi-modal corridor with a vital public realm and green identity supported by urban forest, landscape and stormwater management elements.

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.

The changing suburbs: the migration of podium-tower high density housing to Coquitlam

Date created: 
2014-03-11
Abstract: 

Originating in Vancouver, the podium-tower building typology has become a popular development model that has spread around the world. The popularity of the podium-tower arose from the successful revitalization of Vancouver’s post-industrial waterfronts and became a symbol at the root of the term “Vancouverism”. The typology’s ability to achieve high density residential neighbourhoods while also maintaining and promoting vibrant and active streetscapes has made it popular with urban planners, while the high-rise residential towers have proven popular with developers for the marketable views. This research focuses on the Vancouver style of podium-tower development and its migration to the suburban community of Coquitlam. Coquitlam’s experience with the podium-tower typology illustrates the challenges of implementing podium-tower polices, and attracting development in both new and old neighbourhoods. The research explores the relationship between planning policies and the market for commercial office/retail and residential housing in a mixed-use building typology.

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.

The Origins of Traffic Calming in Vancouver's West End

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-04-09
Abstract: 

This thesis argues that an evolving understanding of the concept of livability was integral to the historic development of traffic calming and mini-parks in Vancouver’s West End. Traffic calming was pioneered in the early 1970s by progressive planners who wanted to improve livability in the newly densified West End by getting rid of unwelcome traffic and creating new park space and pedestrian amenities to combat resident feelings of alienation. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, traffic diversion also became a key policy in a civic drive to remove street prostitution from the West End, a struggle that invoked discourses of ‘livability’ which were used to justify exclusion of socially undesirable people from valued space on the streets in this downtown neighbourhood. Although I conclude that traffic calming is a means to create a more walkable, green and sustainable city, I also find that it contributed to heightened social divisions in the neighbourhood and across the city.

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 Lower Mainland Food System: The Role of Fruit and Vegetable Processing

Date created: 
2014-01-08
Abstract: 

In this paper I explore the transformation of the fruit and vegetable processing industry in BC’s Lower Mainland region from the late 1980s to 2011. I look at how the industry has adapted to the globalization of the fruit and vegetable processing sector and how it has evolved since the introduction of free trade agreements in 1989 and 1994. This research is based on the analysis of media reports, statistical data, survey results, and a series of interviews. The fruit and vegetable processing industry works within a globalized, competitive food system, while remaining an important component of the local food system. The paper contributes to the growing body of literature on Alternative Food Networks and Short Food Supply Chains in an often understudied link in that chain. This case study highlights the need for a strong and diversified local food economy in an era of climate change and uncertainty in the global food supply chain.

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

How are pedestrians in Vancouver being impacted by separated bike lanes?

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-01-07
Abstract: 

This research evaluates the impacts that Vancouver’s downtown separated bike lanes have on pedestrians. Within Downtown Vancouver, there are more trips taken as pedestrians than via vehicle, transit, and bicycle combined. Walking is also the City of Vancouver’s highest transportation priority because it is the most sustainable mode, and the most vulnerable to collision injuries. In this research, interviews and content analysis of separated bike lane documents found evidence of positive impacts on pedestrians’ safety, but also insufficient data to conclusively determine the extent of suspected impacts on the pedestrian environment. Therefore a pedestrian impact survey explored impacts to the pedestrian environment using necessary, optional and social activity indicators, which highlighted further potentially positive impacts. This research concludes by recommending that the pedestrian impact survey forms the basis for a standardized survey tool, which would compare and track changes to any pedestrian environment.

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.

Exploring people-centred development in Melbourne Docklands redevelopment: Beyond physical development and collaborative planning

Date created: 
2013-11-28
Abstract: 

The main theme of this research is centring people and their specific capabilities in the process of change within urban redevelopment. In this regard, in addition to considering affected people as the key actors in the process, this research argues for the inclusion of both the reflexive and adaptive capabilities of human agents. In particular, this research focuses on the socio-reflexive process underlying the change in beliefs-in-actions at both individual and social levels that could lead to place-based identity and community building. This people-centred approach to redevelopment and its alternatives have been studied in the case of Melbourne Docklands redevelopment. The findings show that while the development approach applied in Docklands has changed during its second decade of development (commenced in 2010) towards a more collaborative perspective, it still differs from a people-centred approach and is far from reaching a community building goal. This research finishes with recommendations for a new role for planners and governments, aligned with this approach and future directions for research in urban 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.

Role of the Church in Immigrants’ Urban Integration: the case of Singaporean Immigrants in three churches in the Tri-cities, BC

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-12-09
Abstract: 

This study utilises the theory of bonding and bridging social capital to understand the role of religious institutions in helping immigrants in their integration. There is a growing research interest in understanding immigrants’ labour market outcomes, using the aforementioned theory; with most scholars concluding that bridging social capital is more efficacious. Besides economic integration, this study also looks at the social and cultural integration of immigrants within the context of two predominantly immigrant and one predominantly Canadian churches in the Tri-cities, BC. 85 survey responses and 18 in-depth interviews of leaders and congregants found that the churches fulfill four roles for immigrants: ‘stepping stone’; integration needs; roots/identity retention and ‘leap frogging’. In conclusion, deriving a deeper understanding of how bonding and bridging social capital worked in the three churches, I argue that immigrant and Canadian churches play important and complementary roles in immigrant integration.

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

Tsawwassen First Nation governance: an environmental justice case study

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013-06-03
Abstract: 

This case study examines Tsawwassen First Nation’s (TFN) governance transformation over the past twenty years as a claim for environmental justice, and whether the new regime provides opportunities to achieve environmental justice. The paper presents narrative evidence from interviews, media articles and government and legal documents describing TFN’s transformation over into the first self-governing urban First Nation under a modern treaty agreement in British Columbia. Also key to this transformation was a 2004 benefits agreement with the port authority. The study contributes to a growing body of Canadian environmental justice scholarship using a framework that combines themes from existing literature with a specific definition generated from TFN interviewees. The paper finds that TFN’s new governance regime gives members and their government a better opportunity to pursue procedural justice as a proxy for environmental justice. But, in the same way that forces of economic globalization and neo-liberalism influenced TFN’s treaty agreement and port settlement deal, the powers of self-government will continue to be shaped by larger structural processes. The case study also reveals that considerations of environmental justice are necessary for achieving urban sustainability. The story highlights three elements for future sustainability efforts: transparent, accountable and democratic governance; Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal reconciliation; and a revision of how land is defined, valued and held.

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.

One link in the chain: Vancouver's independent bicycle dealers in the context of the globalized bicycle production network

Date created: 
2013-07-24
Abstract: 

In this research project I explore the role of Vancouver's independent bicycle dealers (IBDs) in the context of a globalized bicycle production network. I consider how IBDs in Vancouver fit within the global network using frameworks developed in the Global Commodity Chain, Global Value Chain, and Global Production Network literature. I identify network actors at the local scale and the relationships between these actors, I suggest that embeddedness is an important feature of the local IBD sector, and I consider the foundations on which IBDs base their independence in this globalized industry. My research findings suggest that while the shift to global production in the bicycle industry has resulted in a greater number IBDs in Vancouver, there is cause to take a cautionary stance looking forward.

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

Neighbourhood Intensification: Attitudes Towards Laneway Housing in the Dunbar Neighbourhood

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-05-23
Abstract: 

Single-family housing in residential neighbourhoods is an unsustainable, but prevalent, urban land use. Planner and policymaker attempts to intensify housing forms within established neighbourhoods are often met with opposition – even to relatively low-density options such as laneway housing. Public participation practices at times amplify anti-densification views when the voices of the most motivated residents predominate. An examination of the attitudes of residents in the Dunbar neighbourhood toward laneway housing reveals the dominance of an anti-densification view, led and nurtured by the local residents association. However, several hidden narratives also exist suggesting a community that is cautiously supportive of laneway housing. This finding points to the importance of public participation processes that capture the views of a broad range of residents. However it also reveals the challenges of planning with communities when the views of residents may be decidedly different than the planning orientations of the city.

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.