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

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Understanding the journey: A qualitative study of the daily mobility for urban families

Date created: 
2014-08-28
Abstract: 

This study seeks to understand the travel behavior of seven families living within Metro Vancouver by using both quantitative and qualitative, ethnographic research methods. Using the techniques of interviews, trip diaries, travel narratives and ‘go-alongs,’ the findings illustrate travel behavior by detailing daily trips and the processes involved in making travel decisions. Its aims are: (1) to explore the relationship between generalization and specificity in understanding mobility choices in urban settings; (2) to detail expected and previously overlooked factors and processes that shape travel choices; and (3) to reassess the determinants of ‘modal choice’ analysis and ask what might be gained by looking beyond the basic data inputs of time, cost, and habit and the weekday commute patterns of the region.

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

Conflicting Priorities on the Granville Street Mall

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-08-26
Abstract: 

Granville Street, on the downtown peninsula of Vancouver, was originally built in the 1880s by the Canadian Pacific Railway and was established as the heart of the city and its primary commercial thoroughfare. Over a century later, Granville Street has served many roles and undergone several alterations, including streetscape redesign, the addition of underground rapid transit lines beginning in the late 80s and increased bus service, and an evolution of entertainment and retail, presenting a unique street where conflicts sometimes arise between its diverse functions. This project examines the motivations and decision-making process behind the Granville’s most recent redesign in 2008, focusing on the complexity of managing the various uses and the demands of the stakeholders involved. Lessons learned from this research can contribute to the development and management practices of similar streets across North America. A conceptual framework applies theory that supports the role of streets in city life as transit or pedestrian malls, as well as securitized and consumption spaces, to reveal the complex scenario that has played out on Granville Street. The analysis includes factors such as transit planning and the introduction of the Canada Line, the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, an increased demand for activated public space, issues associated with public drunkenness in the entertainment district, and downtown business interests. The research employs document analysis, direct on-street observations, and in-depth interviews with key informants to gain a clear picture of decisions that were made in the redesign process and how these decisions might have been affected by conflicts and compromises between stakeholders. Findings suggest that Granville Street provides an innovative model of street management by separating its variety of uses on a temporal, rather than physical scale. Though conflicts will still remain and should be considered in future planning, this approach is worthy of recognition and emulation.

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

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