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

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Reconciliation in Vancouver: From federal truth telling to municipal reconciliation

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-08
Abstract: 

There has recently been increasing attention in Canada towards the responsibilities that municipal governments have in resolving some of the systemic issues that Indigenous Peoples face, while living in urban centres. In particular, the term “reconciliation” is being utilized by many cities across Canada as a way to amplify the voices of Indigenous Peoples and further, to strengthen the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples in urban centres. This research explores the City of Vancouver’s decision to prioritize reconciliation as a policy goal. In addition, this work further analyzes the impacts resulting from the City of Vancouver’s execution of reconciliation activities, since the development of the Framework for Reconciliation, that increased municipal engagement for reconciliation activities to occur.

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

Managing stormwater more sustainably using green infrastructure and low impact development

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-01
Abstract: 

As cities continue to develop and densify, there is usually a notable increase in impermeable surface areas. With the introduction of more impermeable surfaces, significantly less rainwater is able to infiltrate back into the ground. When rainwater travels over impermeable surface areas, the runoff picks up toxic pollutants. This polluted water, hereafter referred to as “stormwater”, is generally conveyed into storm networks and eventually discharged into receiving outfall areas. When large volumes of polluted stormwater are discharged at high velocities, this can result in the pollution and erosion of receiving areas. As cities continue to grow, and with climate change on the rise, sustainably managing stormwater has become increasingly more important in today’s urban environment. Relying only on conventional stormwater management practices can be problematic, since today’s stormwater management solutions should be designed to respond to climate change, and the changing urban landscape. Using lesson-drawing and the voluntary transfer of information from the City of Philadelphia, this thesis suggests the use of green infrastructure, and low impact development in order manage rainwater as close to the source as possible. As a guiding principle, this thesis encourages planners, engineers, civil designers, and landowners to build natural processes back into the altered urban environment and use green infrastructure and low impact development whenever possible to manage stormwater more sustainably.

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

Learning in public space: The design process behind Science World’s Environmental Trail

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-06-19
Abstract: 

Urban designers and landscape architects have begun to devote more of their practice to the creation of learning opportunities in public spaces. Very little research has been conducted, however, into how these public “learning environments” have been designed. This thesis focuses on a case study of Creekside Park’s TD Environmental Trail (TDET) which surrounds Vancouver, Canada’s Science World. It offers interactive exhibits and interpretative posters that explore a number of sustainability-related themes. The research here reconstructs TDET’s design process through interviews with key participants as well as content analysis of planning and design documentation such as the City of Vancouver’s development permits. The evidence compiled reveals how the TDET became a part of a larger urban design process undertaken between 1999 and 2013, negotiating the boundaries between the site’s public and private spaces. It reduced Creekside Park’s public space through creation of the gated fare-paying “Ken Spencer Science Park”, and in exchange, provided improvements to the remaining space, including pedestrian and bicycle pathways, landscaping, and the TDET. This thesis studies the original and evolving intentions behind the TDET, shining light on the multiple images, forces, actors and decisions that led to the creation of its interactive exhibits and interpretative posters. In so doing, it provides first steps in evaluating Vancouver’s public interactive space.

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.

Mission to build: Converging and competing interests over church property redevelopment in Vancouver, BC

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-19
Abstract: 

This study explores the converging and competing interests of real estate, urban planning, and congregational interests over church property redevelopment in Vancouver, BC. Using multiple methodologies including historical analysis, document analysis, semi-structured interviews, and a case study, this project provides an analysis of twenty-four church redevelopment projects proposed in Vancouver between 2005 and 2020. While these projects are generally described as “win-win-win”, the purpose of this study is to evaluate this claim of shared benefit. Key findings reveal a trend towards the privatization of community-serving space through a net transfer of land to market residential developments. The market driven approach adopted by most of these projects stand in contrast to values of housing affordability and community benefit articulated by interview participants, raising questions about how congregations can better protect their missional interests through redevelopment. A case study of the Co:Here housing project by Grandview Church provides insight into how mission-driven, non-market church redevelopments might differ from dominant models of church-developer partnerships.

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.

Investigating accessibility of public campus spaces at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-20
Abstract: 

This research explores the spectrum of public accessibility at selected central public spaces at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus and Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby campus. As both universities are progressing towards urbanization and density, knowing how their public spaces are used by students and the general public alike can advise future directions for campus planning and policy. These two major universities provide housing for a growing residential population and publics that are not necessarily registered students, or employees. Moreover, as both campuses are working to provide increased accessibility to their spaces through public transportation, they will need to chart out directions on how to navigate their seemingly contrasting missions as institutions for higher education while accommodating residents and a diverse demographic of space users who have no direct association with the university. Taking inspiration from methodologies used to study privately owned public spaces, structured observations of physical features, and interviews, the author finds disagreement among interpretations to the degree of publicness of university spaces commonly assumed to be “public”. The findings demonstrate the changing nature and meaning of campus spaces through time, as both universities navigate the challenges and opportunities of finding ways to accommodate a greater range of students, residents, and other space users.

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

Decolonizing municipal heritage programs: A case study of the city of Victoria’s heritage program

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-15
Abstract: 

This research examines the City of Victoria’s heritage program, which comprises of civic plans, policies and associated agencies, to understand whether or not it can meet the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action. I have argued that the City of Victoria’s heritage program must be adapted to include intangible cultural heritage to support decolonization and the representation of Indigenous cultural heritage. Intangible cultural heritage offers an accessible way for the field of municipal heritage planning to become more inclusive and supportive to reconciliation.

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 motivations and operational realities of mixed model developments in the Province of B.C.

Date created: 
2020-04-09
Abstract: 

This thesis analyzes four housing developments in the Province of B.C. that involve mixed rental rates, uses and, in some instances, tenures (oftentimes referred to as mixed model developments in this document) to understand the political, economic and social motivations that lead to this form of housing development and their operational benefits and challenges. The main theme—through interviews, analysis of each project’s publicly available planning documentation and the project’s economic model—are that while these developments may have been desired from a social perspective, there are also large economic and political motivations driving them forward. It is often suggested that mixed income development attempts to counteract the negative effects associated with highly concentrated inner-city poverty, however, the true social outcomes of mixed income development on lower income individuals is unclear. What is generally accepted is that mixed income development is an economically and politically feasible urban redevelopment strategy. This study finds that while economics and politics were motivating factors of these projects, community building was also an important aspect of the four case studies; however, it wasn’t indicated by interviewees as being because of mixes of income levels within the developments. It was because there was a belief that building community with your neighbors was important to social well being. Furthermore, operationally, adequate amenity space and appropriate commercial space with facilitated programming to all tenants was noted by interviewees as being important to community building and social mixing in these developments. In most instances, when there was limited amenity/commercial space and limited facilitated programming, social mixing wasn’t occurring according to the housing providers interviewed.

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

Relationship-building on unceded lands: An examination and assessment of the Musqueam–YVR Sustainability and Friendship Agreement

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-15
Abstract: 

Musqueam Indian Band and the Vancouver Airport Authority signed a ‘Sustainability and Friendship Agreement’ on June 21, 2017, following decades of Musqueam assertions of rights and title over the airport lands. While not an explicit recognition of Musqueam rights and title, the Agreement implicitly acknowledges that Musqueam community can benefit from its territorial lands and should have a say in how the Airport develops. The Agreement commits the Airport to providing various community benefits, including scholarships, employment, training, contracting, and business partnership opportunities. It commits the parties to engaging with one another on a regular basis about Airport plans and developments. It also commits Musqueam Band to supporting the Airport’s ongoing operations, regardless of title recognition. Two years in, the outcomes are supporting various Musqueam community planning objectives. The relationship now reflects several principles of reconciliation; however, it does not guarantee Musqueam’s right to determine uses of its territorial lands.

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

A leap of faith: Motivations for place of worship redevelopment in Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-20
Abstract: 

This research study explores the motivations for religious congregations in Vancouver, Canada that are redeveloping their sites, building housing (and other ancillary services and uses), while retaining their place of worship function. This is a recent development phenomenon for Vancouver, and at the time of research, no academic studies had yet addressed the topic for the Vancouver context. The purpose is to better understand what internal and external forces may be motivating congregations to pursue such redevelopment schemes, by focusing on their rationale, objectives, and experiences with the projects thus far, from the perspective of the congregations themselves. The lessons learned from this research aim to provide insight on place of worship redevelopment in Vancouver, with a focus on four case studies, and highlight the areas of convergence and divergence from place of worship redevelopment happening in other urban contexts.

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

Multilevel governing in British Columbia: A case study of residential development and the Agricultural Land Reserve in the City of Richmond

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-02-27
Abstract: 

This thesis presents a locally specific case study of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in the City of Richmond, British Columbia, providing an examination of multi-level governance and government ‘on the ground’ in Canada. The last several years represents a significant period of policy and political change, at both the City of Richmond and the Province of British Columbia, intended to protect ALR land from residential and accessory residential uses as well as the outright exclusion of land from the Reserve. Yet, a lack a cooperation and policy coordination between, across and within federal, provincial, regional, and municipal scales has allowed such exclusions and the increased residential and accessory residential development of land within the ALR to occur. Such policy discord and inconsistencies are largely attributable to several challenges inherent in the multi-jurisdictional character of the ALR with sometimes competing and conflicting interests between government scales and conflicting private and public interests. Most significant has been a lack of political will to act and the passing off of jurisdictional responsibility between government levels. Moving forward, further province-wide regulation limiting non-agricultural uses of ALR lands while allowing for continued municipal flexibility in regulating below these provincial benchmarks is needed. Such increased provincial regulation would allow for greater consistency between municipalities as well as urban and agricultural areas within cities, reducing the appeal of ALR lands for residential and accessory residential development.

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