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

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Housing Preference in the Peri-urban Zone:The Prospects for Urban Containment and Smart Growth in North Cowichan

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-06-29
Abstract: 

This paper investigates the housing form and neighbourhood design preferences of residents of North Cowichan, a small community in the peri-urban zone between Victoria and Nanaimo, BC, Canada. Using a mixed methods approach, residential preferences among residents were documented in order to establish the degree to which they are consistent with the principles of smart growth and, thus, supportive of urban containment.The research finds that in general residents value privacy, separation from neighbours and independence above other residential characteristics, characteristics that are not consistent with traditional smart growth residential forms. However, there is a subset of the population, particularly among residents over fifty years of age, who want to live in more urbanized environments. This paper concludes that residential forms need to reflect the values of privacy and independence in order draw more people into denser forms of housing and toward urban cores.

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

Seedstock: a community currency in Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-04-30
Abstract: 

This project explores Seedstock, a community currency based on the Community Way model. Seedstock founders demonstrate a commitment to advance social change using education to drive the uptake and use of a community currency. A conceptual framework is constructed to explore values behind exchanges by critiquing current economic theories and arguing for community currencies’ ability to generate positive change. Stakeholders were interviewed to reveal the story behind Seedstock. My findings indicate that it is not yet time to determine its success or failure and suggest that educational efforts required to communicate a relatively unknown and complicated concept were underestimated. Overall, miscalculated target audience, insufficient resources given over to communication and education resulted in a poor mix and slow uptake by local businesses, and low engagement by non-profits. The story of Seedstock demonstrates the values and risks of applying ‘small is beautiful’ economics in a contemporary urban setting like Vancouver.

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

The greater good: Integration in a surplus food management system

Date created: 
2015-02-25
Abstract: 

This study explores surplus food management in the City of Vancouver, including the organizations involved, how it behaves as a system, and opportunities for optimizing the system. The analysis incorporates environmental policy integration, systems thinking for sustainable development, food systems planning, and approaches to food security. Data collection included eight semi-structured interviews with individuals familiar with surplus food management, a review of literature and information from various organizations’ websites, and my personal experience volunteering with a food redistributor. Results showed that the surplus food management system has developed organically, seemingly serving the needs of organizations involved. However, financial constraints, agenda conflicts, and ineffective relationship management are hurdles to reducing food waste and ensuring that people in need receive nutritious foods. To begin to improve surplus food management, an intermediary is proposed, which would ensure that there is sufficient capacity to use surplus food appropriately and mediate relationships among participating organizations.

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

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.