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

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Mortgaging the Future: the Financialization of Affordable Housing in Canada, 1984-2008

Date created: 
2014-12-03
Abstract: 

This project provides a policy history of the ideological and structural factors that underpinned the transformation of federal affordable housing policy in Canada from 1984 to 2008. Emerging out the subsidy-based Keynesian housing programs of the 1970s, the federal government began to construct a new ‘financialized’ approach to affordable housing in the 1980s centered on the mortgage insurance and securitization operations of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Canada’s federal housing agency. This new approach to housing policy was fully consolidated by the end of the 1990s and was one factor contributing to affordability problems and growing indebtedness in Canada’s metropolitan centres over the 2000s. New mortgage insurance products and securitization programs, the key pieces of financialized housing policy, incentivized financial institutions to lend mortgage credit to households over the 2000s, which in turn helped drive demand and competition for homes in urban housing markets. The project argues that in the 1980s and 90s political and economic structures were the main factor prompting the restructuring of affordable housing policy, but that over the 2000s restructuring became more dominated by the ideological belief that financial innovation and market competition could provide affordable housing for lower-income borrowers.

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

Democracy, Governance, and Metro Vancouver: Decision-Making and the Regional Growth Strategy

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-11-06
Abstract: 

Democracy at the scale of the city-region is obfuscated by multiple levels of government, lateral relationships between private and public actors, and decision-making that combines governance together with government. At this scale lines of accountability and decision-making are blurred. However, “new regionalism” combines government together with governance as a possible approach for cooperation and decision-making at the scale of the metropolitan region. This study reviews the extent to which the City of Burnaby and civil society organizations (CSOs) across Metro Vancouver influenced and shaped the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) ratified in 2011. The literature regarding “new regionalism” highlights two important features: 1) the possibility of including non-government organizations and/or private actors in decision-making and 2) consensus-based, collaborative, decision-making. An interpretive analysis reveals that both the City of Burnaby and civil society organizations were consulted and able to influence the Regional Growth Strategy. The multiple avenues available to local authorities to review the plan, including written submissions and participation on Metro Vancouver’s Technical Advisory Committee, enabled them to collaborate and deliberate with one another. Although they were consulted, CSOs were not empowered to collaborate with one another, or with local authorities as part of the process. Factors which limited the involvement of CSOs, and inhibited the exploration of alternative normative goals for the RGS, include Metro Vancouver’s institutional focus on consensus between member local authorities, the historical focus on sustainability in regional planning, and the more regulatory approach that was applied in the case of the RGS.

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

An industry without grounds: Understanding the locational patterns of manufacturing firms in the city of Lima, Peru

Date created: 
2014-11-06
Abstract: 

We explore the locational characteristics of manufacturing firms in the city of Lima. For this we created a database of establishment locations of medium and large industrial establishments. Considering factors such as firm size, age, sector and global trade connections, we will explore where certain types of firms tend to locate. We elaborated on this information with a previous study and informational interviews. We show that while certain industrial firms are capable of moving to the outskirts of the city, others still need to locate in close proximity to city centres. We also explored whether new smaller firms need to locate in central areas, while larger firms tend to locate on areas where low land prices and good connectivity to Global Value Chains allow better performance. This argument however turned out harder to explore, given the limited information we gathered on truly small firms. The findings support a case for the protection and promotion of central industrial lands while also developing a theory for best practices in outskirt locations, taking into consideration that current solutions are being promoted by private investors rather than regional authorities.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Peter Hall
Patrick Smith
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.Urb.

From Government to Governance: The City of Toronto’s Role in Immigrant Settlement Service Coordination since the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement

Date created: 
2014-11-14
Abstract: 

In recent years, there has been increasing attention paid to the role of municipal government on issues related to the settlement of immigrants. The City of Toronto provides a case study for a municipal government that is increasingly involved in the coordination of services across the city. This research will provide an overview of the role of the City of Toronto in the coordination of settlement services since the signing of the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement in 2005. This agreement set the stage for tri-level government overview of settlement services to occur, and for a formalized collaboration between government and community stakeholders. The findings of this research indicate that initiatives such as the Local Immigration Partnerships and Newcomer Leadership Table are allowing for such intergovernmental and cross-sectoral collaboration to occur.

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

Exploring the Social Meaning of Aging and of Neighbourhood Programs and Facilities for Older Residents: Ethnographic Accounts from Vancouver

Date created: 
2014-10-30
Abstract: 

This study investigates a neglected aspect of the emerging social and professional concern with the demographic trend toward an aging population. Specifically, it examines some commonly encountered discursive assumptions about the capacities and requirements of adults aged 65 and older and considers potential difficulties involved in relying upon these to guide thinking about how to provide for the needs of people in this age category. The second part of the project presents the findings from ethnographic interviews conducted with 13 seniors (aged 65 years and over) who reside within Vancouver neighbourhoods. These findings provide detailed accounts of individuals’ daily lives and how they perceive and meet their social needs both within and beyond the confines of organized neighbourhood programs and facilities. These accounts are then analyzed to assess the degree to which the lived experiences and expressed needs of these individuals align with discursive representations of the lifestyles of seniors, representations that figure in academic accounts and the discursive statements of various organizations that attempt to speak and act on behalf of older adults. In allowing participants to speak for themselves, this study both complicates and enriches our understanding of an often taken-for-granted or ‘spoken about’ category of people by highlighting variation between individuals. The research findings suggest a need to consider ways in which assumptions used to inform policy and planning for categories of people are made and the importance of ongoing inclusion of persons aged 65 and older in dialogues concerning them.

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

Understanding development patterns around the 22nd Street and New Westminster SkyTrain Stations

Date created: 
2014-09-04
Abstract: 

The introduction of SkyTrain into the Greater Vancouver Area has had a significant impact on the land use patterns in the region. However, development patterns have been uneven and have varied from station to station. Some neighbourhoods have intensified and diversified their land uses, while others have only changed minimally since the introduction of rapid transit. This project examines the factors that have influenced the development patterns around the 22nd Street and New Westminster SkyTrain Stations. The intent of the research project is to determine why some places in the Greater Vancouver area have intensified and diversified their lands uses since the introduction of rapid transit while others have not. Nine factors (Land Use Planning, Catalyst Developer, Availability of Developable Land, Community Prioritization, Neighbourhood Perception, Neighbourhood Characteristics, Public Investment, Public Resistance to Land Use Change and Road Infrastructure) have been identified in this research project that have influenced and shaped the development patterns around the New Westminster and 22nd Street SkyTrain Stations. Understanding these factors and the relationships between them will help assist municipal planner and leaders to better understand the processes that influence land use changes around rapid transit stations.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Anthony Perl
Patrick Smith
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.Urb.

It Takes a Region: A Case Study of Growth and Governance in the St. John’s city-region of Newfoundland and Labrador

Date created: 
2014-11-20
Abstract: 

This study is about understanding a less typical Canadian response to metropolitan regional governance in the St. John’s city-region of Newfoundland and Labrador. Governance of city-regions has become a prominent concern of urbanizing areas around the globe, yet the political dynamics of the local context significantly impact adoption of regional solutions to this challenge. In this research, content analysis of policy reports and consulting studies were combined with interviews of provincial and municipal leaders, planners and regional organizations. The study found that despite a number of operationally effective single-purpose regional bodies there is a high level of power imbalance, distrust of the centre city, and a history of relations that are not conducive to advancing regionalism. Still, there are ongoing forums that continue to advance the region as a legitimate scale for action and participants see value in the regional approach. This study concludes that Provincial intervention is necessary to steer the leadership of the region toward workable regional solutions. In order to enhance inter-municipal collaboration in regional governance the Province needs to act as a facilitator to move beyond historical power dynamics and build trust. Furthermore, in order to improve relations with its neighbours, the City of St. John’s has to seek collaborative solutions and put the amalgamation ghost to rest.

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

Mixed-use in practice: a case study of London’s Landing, Richmond, BC

Date created: 
2014-08-26
Abstract: 

The research explores how the concept of mixed-use development works in practice, in relation to its intent as described in the theory on land use planning and sustainability. Specifically, the research intended to gauge whether mixed-use development contributes to the creation of a vibrant, compact, and complete community for those who live in the suburban neighbourhood of London’s Landing in Richmond, British Columbia. Mixed and multiple research methods included: secondary data review and analysis; semi-structured interviews with relevant planning professionals; a survey questionnaire of neighbourhood residents; and direct unobtrusive observation of the neighbourhood. A comparison of the findings from each of the data sources used in this study with the indicators of a vibrant, compact, and complete community, as compiled from the literature reviewed, demonstrates the outcome of the research question along with some unintended discoveries. The research recognizes that the London’s Landing is still evolving and that there are indeed missing pieces, which prevent London’s Landing from being considered a truly vibrant, compact, and complete community. Perhaps the most interesting overall finding is how residents surveyed feel about London’s Landing regardless of whether it meets the theoretical outcomes of mixed-use development theory, e.g. that they love it and overwhelmingly consider it to be an attractive neighbourhood to live in. With this knowledge, the potential exists for the proliferation of attractive mixed-use neighbourhoods that are misleading, lacking in authenticity, and that are in fact environmentally, socially, and economically unsustainable. Additional action and research is needed into certain practical aspects of mixed-use development to fill the gaps that exist in the complete-community theory for the purpose of avoiding the pitfalls identified in this case study of London’s Landing.

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

Where to go? Designing Bike Share Systems around High Frequency Transit and Separated Cycling Infrastructure

Date created: 
2014-08-25
Abstract: 

Bicycle share systems, by providing the opportunity for the automobile’s spontaneous mobility without the destructive impacts, are seen as a low cost and critical tool for improving urban mobility while avoiding the problems of automobile oriented urban design. Public transportation systems are often hindered with the “final mile” problem, where transit agencies cannot attract patrons to due to the lack of high quality, reliable feeder transit services. Bike share systems can potentially extend the reach of core quality transit services. The bicycle share system “final mile” solution is often cited by planners, but with little empirical evidence. The planning industry also argues that separated cycling infrastructure encourages higher cycling rates. Existing literature indicates a positive relationship with general cycling, and between bicycle share systems and unseparated bicycle lanes. Minimal research has been undertaken using bicycle share system trip data to analyze the relationship between the number of trips and presence of separated cycling infrastructure. Washington D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare system is a pioneering and successful system in North America, with over two million trips annually. A multivariable statistical analysis and visualization of the publicly available empirical trip data from Capital Bikeshare finds a statistically significant positive relationship between the rates of cycling trips and separated cycling infrastructure for most trips, and between the rates of cycling trips and Metrorail high frequency transit services during morning and evening peak trips.

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

Kingsway and Knight Neighbourhood Centre Housing Area Plan

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-08-05
Abstract: 

Attempts to densify single-family neighbourhoods are often resisted by local property owners and seen to be politically challenging. Most land use policies intended to bring about intensification of existing single-family areas in Vancouver have either met with widespread resistance from neighbourhoods, or not been implemented at all. On the east side of Vancouver, the Kingsway and Knight Neighbourhood Centre Housing Area Plan (“the K&K Plan”) resulted in new zoning to introduce new forms of ground-oriented housing intended to expand housing diversity, allowing people to stay within their community as their housing needs change over time. These changes were brought in with little community resistance and even a degree of neighbourhood support. This research project investigates the K&K Plan using development permit and census data to determine if the Plan has achieved its goals of producing a diversity of housing types that are suitable for families with children and seniors. Examination of development permit data reveals that, although the pace of development within the neighbourhood centre is only slightly greater than an adjacent single-family area, the resultant new developments provide a greater variety of housing types and increased density in an area close to transit and shopping. Further, the new housing types are generally well integrated into the existing neighbourhood in terms of their scale and design that is compatible with existing single-family housing; allowing the area to intensify and redevelop in dispersed and more organic way over time. Census data analysis suggests that there are more small children and younger adults in the study area compared to an adjacent single-family comparison area. Although this variation could suggest that the new housing types have resulted in more families with younger children, the research is not conclusive and this demographic change could be the result of other factors. The number of seniors living in the area was not greater compared to the adjacent single-family area. This analysis could be repeated in the future to examine this and other demographic data to evaluate potential effects of additional development over time within the neighbourhood.

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