Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Why do landowners restore wetlands? A case study from east central Ontario
Wetlands were once widespread in southern Ontario, but many have been drained through land use changes. Using a case study of twelve landowners in the Kawartha region, I explored motivations for restoring wetlands. Psychological research suggests that people who are more connected to nature and attached to place are more likely to behave sustainably. Results showed that having land available and receiving funding were necessary preconditions. Connectedness to nature and place attachment were motivations, as were personal benefits and having a supportive social community. Challenges included: the Permit to Take Water, paperwork and bureaucracy, delays and timing, and economic restrictions. Positive outcomes were: increased property value and crop productivity; personal enjoyment of wetlands; and improved wildlife habitat and water quality. Negative outcomes were: `nuisance' wildlife, trespassing, and a lack or excess of water. This is a novel study exploring nature connectedness, place attachment and wetland restoration qualitatively in southern Ontario. Author Keywords: agriculture, connection to nature, motivation, southern Ontario, stewardship, wetland restoration
Art of the Sustainable Street
ABSTRACT The Art of the Sustainable Street Miriam L. R. Mutton The street influences our sense of community every day. It is argued that getting the street right communicates a collective vision for action leading to sustainable community. This investigation continues conversations for community repair and resilient change, especially for small town Ontario. The researcher is informed by ways of seeing inspired by Walter Benjamin’s literary montage, The Arcades Project. By method of collecting and connecting information from literature sources spanning several decades and recent interviews, this thesis demonstrates in narrative form the value to community of everyday street details of human scale. Recurrent themes are adopted as technique in validation. Findings are presented from various perspectives including those of the design professional and the politician. The sustainable street enables communication. Research outcomes indicate knowledge transferred through the art of storytelling supports place-making and connection to community. Fragments of information connect into themes defining safe streets which foster trust among strangers, and facilitate citizenship and good governance. Key words: sustainable community, citizenship, safe streets, Benjamin, governance Author Keywords: Benjamin, citizenship, governance, safe streets, sustainable community
Energy Resilience in Northern Communities
This project examines the factors for success of alternative energy initiatives in remote northern Indigenous communities, and the link between northern community energy and resilience. The case study, in the Gwich’in village of Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, focuses upon a biomass boiler district heating project that provides renewable heat fuelled by local wood chips, and the willow harvesting initiative that supports it. Data was collected by interviews and participant observation in Fort McPherson and Yellowknife, and by analysis of resilience, community energy, and biomass literature. Success factors identified include the importance of aligning energy systems with local cultural identity, traditional values and connection to landscape, values often under-represented in financially-driven energy decisions. Autonomy and self-reliance are shown to be critical factors in northern community energy decisions, related to well-being, pride in place and enhanced resilience. Community resilience is revealed as a key component of northern community energy success. Author Keywords: Energy, Indigenous, Northern, Renewable, Resilience, Sustainable
Building wind energy landscapes
This thesis project explores landowner experiences of wind energy development through an inductive qualitative case study in Huron County, Ontario. The research included in-depth interviews with landowners focused on landscape and community change, participant observation of Environmental Review Tribunals (ERT), the gathering of participant photos, as well as relevant government and industry documents and media reports. The iterative data gathering and analysis were supported by my observations and reflections while living in affected communities and talking to participants. The study demonstrates how the health debate over wind can inform divisions between neighbours, that local politics have been given a token role as a place for resistance to wind energy development that fails to meaningfully influence projects, and that appeals are legalistic and do not provide an outlet, or place for appellants to be heard. Furthermore, the felt experience of tight knit and fragile communities were disrupted through land leases, as well as changes to the landscape. These disruptions impacted connections to, and associations with place, and are shown to have had negative emotional and physical impacts on some individuals. Supporters of wind development tied their mostly positive views of landscape change to a sense of disruption generally throughout the community. Insights from the research lead to a set of suggested actions that might improve the current situation at the levels of provincial policy, planning, local governance and industry practice. Keywords: wind energy policy, planning, landscape, Ontario, rural communities Author Keywords: Affect, landscape, Ontario, planning, Rural communities, Wind energy policy
Life in the Woods
The North American conservation movement and modern conservation model was created in part because of the exploitative commercial hunting industry that caused the collapse of species such as the bison and auk in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These historical actions continue to shape views today and the public perception of hunting can often be negative. This thesis engaged with this question of social acceptability by conducting action research to determine hunters’ motivations and how these might affect the way hunting is perceived. As part of this action research, I conducted nine in-depth interviews, a survey of 177 hunters, and a focus group to determine what the dominant motivations were for the hunters studied. I then suggest how the motivations discovered through the focus group, interviews, and survey can work towards the current and future social, economic, cultural, and environmental sustainability of hunting in Ontario. Author Keywords: Ethics, Hunting, Motivations, Ontario, Social Acceptance, Sustainability
Role of Consumption in Canada’s Economic Sustainability
This thesis addresses the interconnectedness of environmental sustainability and economic sustainability. There is evidence from the Canadian experience that market economies are extremely dependent upon consumption - the most significant factor in determining the overall level of economic activity and economic growth. Therefore, from this perspective, several periods of declining consumption would create a ‘vicious cycle’ [Kaldor, 1967] of economic decline that would be politically unsustainable. The analysis here shows that income inequality drives changes in debt-fueled consumption, and consequently, debt influences consumption. The role of income inequality as a mediating channel of sustainability via the borrowing/lending model presents evidence that ‘conventional’ debt servicing behaviour in the macro-economy can support steady-state economic growth that is, in economic terms, sustainable. Solving the conflict between the environment and the economy lies in private and public investments in new technologies and, most importantly, new social institutions that facilitate economic, political, and environmental, sustainability. Author Keywords: Consumption, Economic Growth, Household Debt, Income Inequality, Sustainability
Mythopoeia Sylvatica
Since British colonization of North America and the beginning of Anglo-speaking Euro-Canada and the United States, myth-making or representations of the forests have witnessed degradation and loss of old-growth forest ecosystems or intact sylvan landscapes. Canadian and American versions of the story of the North American Forests shared the same trajectory: forests as ‘wasted-land’ or the sylvan wilderness (terra nullius) divided into properties and cleared to “improve” the land for settlement/agriculture, forests as storehouses for timber and imperial expansion, forest landscapes and specific forest trees as identity politics and sources of industrial and economic power. While forests are recognized according to various stakeholders’ values today, what is commonly accepted as a forest varies widely. The meaning given to “forest” determines related terms and concepts, such as “sustainable forestry” and “reforestation.” This thesis addresses the issue of social-bioecological degradation, loss, and dis(re)membering of old-growth forests and problematizes traditional Western relationships with old wildwoods shaped by notions of space, politics, and economy. In the forest topos, the core question becomes which forest(s) are being imagined, represented, and remembered? Whose environmental imagination is shaping the landscape? As a critical topographical exploration of the North American forests through six witness trees, this thesis demonstrates how the meanings imbued in trees and wild woods come to determine the fate of the forests. It reveals how colonial values and trends persist in our societies still, and calls for an ethical social-ecological reimagining of the forests through traditions of ethical storytelling and environmental witnessing. Author Keywords: critical topography, environmental generational amnesia, environmental witnessing, forests, social-ecological systems, witness trees
Uncovering the Barriers to Sustainable Music Consumption
The study sought to uncover the motivations influencing collectors when they buy recorded music. These motivations were analyzed through the lenses of environmental, economic, and cultural sustainability. Trent Radio Programmers were interviewed because of their frequent use of recorded music, sizable collections, and active participation in the local music scene. The study identified disconnects between artist, industry, and consumer motivations that hinder the achievement of a sustainable system. Environmental sustainability was not considered, while the artists’ economic and cultural sustainability were. This finding translates to the idea that in the music industry, to strengthen cultural sustainability, economics must be supported, which requires environmental impact. This research has the potential to catalyze critical conversations about digital media, artist welfare, and the state of the music industry. Author Keywords: College Radio, Cultural Sustainability, Economic Sustainability, Environmental Sustainability, Music Collecting
Motivating Policy Responses to Climate Change
This research investigates urban climate governance through a case study of climate change adaptation policy making in the Canadian municipality of Vancouver, British Columbia (BC). It investigates the context in which the City of Vancouver was motivated to develop its climate change adaptation strategy (CCAS) by exploring the motivating factors and drivers behind the formulation of this plan. The research approach involved content analysis of policy documents underlying the CCAS as well as interviews with key politicians and policy makers familiar with the strategy. I conceptualize the development of the CCAS using Kingdon's Multiple Streams Framework, leading me to conclude that the convergence of three streams, namely: 1) knowledge of local climate change impacts and their cost to city assets, 2) political leadership and 3) green policy coordination in the City of Vancouver, created an opportunity that was seized upon by policy champions to address adaptation. Author Keywords: adapting cities to climate change, climate change adaptation policy, climate change adaptation policy formulation, local climate governance, municipal adaptation plan, urban climate governance
Civic Agriculture
This thesis re-imagines the social sustainability of civic agriculture. This entails critically examining the idea of sustainability and exposing why a tendency to undertheorize its social dimension is problematic for how we think about sustainability, and consequently for how we do sustainability. What is demonstrated is that we can overcome this tendency by adopting Stephen McKenzie's understanding of social sustainability as a positive condition and/or process within a community. Once brought into contact with the concept of civic agriculture as presented by Thomas A. Lyson, and expanded upon by others, this broadened understanding of social sustainability reveals that we can think of civic agriculture as both a means to, and an expression of, social sustainability. Specifically, this thesis argues that it is civic agriculture's community problem-solving dimension which animates civic agriculture in such a way that it creates the sort of condition and/or enables the sort of process which reflect aspects associated with a substantive and/or procedural understanding of social sustainability. This re-imagining of the social sustainability of civic agriculture provides ways to defend civic agriculture from its critics and is exemplified by drawing from a personal encounter with civic agriculture. In the end, it is proposed that in light of this research there are now good reasons to re-examine civic agriculture and to critically re-imagine what qualifies who as a civic agriculturalist so that the contextual nature of the social sustainability of civic agriculture can be better respected. Author Keywords: civic agriculture, community problem solving, local food systems, social sustainability, Stephen McKenzie, Thomas A. Lyson
Shoreline Stewardship
This thesis aimed to determine what factors influence individual- and community-level shoreline stewardship attitudes and behaviours. Shoreline stewardship is part of the broader literature of environmental stewardship and place-based conservation. The needs and barriers limiting stewardship action were examined, as were the opportunities for increased impact. The Love Your Lake (LYL) program served as a case study into the impact of ENGO programming on shoreline stewardship among shoreline property owners in Ontario. This was investigated using a program workshop, interviews and focus groups with past program participants, and existing participant survey data. Community-Based Social Marketing principles were used to further examine the opportunities for increased impact on stewardship behaviour. The study found that the LYL program was effective in starting or continuing a conversation in communities around shoreline health. Some of the remaining needs and/or barriers included limited time at the cottage; limited knowledge of how to fix existing shoreline issues; low stock of local native plants and environmentally minded landscapers; ineffective messaging; a lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern; and weak environmental policies and governance of shorelines. Some participants also listed cost as a barrier, while others felt it had been well addressed already. Most participants thought that education could be a barrier but that it had been well addressed locally through LYL or other programming. Some key motivators and opportunities to increase shoreline stewardship included community building, increased lake association capacity, improved communication and marketing strategies, and persistence. Author Keywords: Community-Based Social Marketing, Environmental Stewardship, Lake Health, Place-Based Conservation, Pro-Environmental Behaviour, Shoreline Stewardship
Dimensions of socio-cultural sustainability
Social and cultural sustainability is increasingly discussed in a variety of disciplines and in the growing body of sustainability literature. However there is a lack of clarity in how the concept is defined and poor understanding as to how it relates to other aspects of sustainability. To address this issue, this research explored current definitions and representations of socio-cultural sustainability in the literature and community perspectives on this topic through a case study in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, Labrador. This research identifies gaps in current understandings of this concept, as well as differences between community and academic perspectives. Case study results emphasized the importance of strong social relationships, cultural identity, and connection to place as central elements of socio-cultural sustainability in a northern, Indigenous context. These findings are valuable for policy and decision makers, regarding approaches to community planning and supporting the social and cultural aspects of sustainability. Author Keywords: cultural sustainability, Hopedale, Inuit, Nunatsiavut, social sustainability, socio-cultural sustainability

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Format: 2021/10/24