Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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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
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
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
Learning From One Another
Biomaterial technology and utilizing bioproducts can contribute to Canada's economic growth while moving towards sustainable development. Canadian bioproducts are commonly developed within universities but Canada's record of transferring university technology to market has been less than optimal. In an attempt to offer new ideas for improvement, qualitative data analysis from comparing stakeholder interviews in Canada and Brazil regarding university technology transfer through biomaterial spin-off development identifies the enablers and barriers to success. This thesis offers modality changes that if implemented will contribute to increasing university spin-off development in Canada to achieve economic growth and sustainable development. These modality changes include: 1) Create research network alliances; 2) Incorporate university commercialization activities into faculty performance measurement; 3) Implement a general business class as a pre-requisite to all degree requirements; 4) Restructure funding programs from one time sums to phase based implementation; 5) Establish a pre-incubation program in addition to the traditional incubator. Author Keywords: biomaterials, Brazil, Canada, policy, university spin-off, university technology transfer
sustainability of Community-based Water supply Organizations (CWOs)
The world has met the target of halving the number of people without access to improved-drinking water . However, the focus in rural areas (where 83% of the people without access to improved-drinking water live) has been on the construction of infrastructure, rather than on the strengthening of existing local institutions to create a long-term sustainable solution. This research aims to understand what are the necessary characteristics that CWOs, the main rural water supplier institutions around the world, must have to offer safe water continuously and in the long term. The results indicate that to offer such conditions, internal and external characteristic need to coexist. Those characteristics will emerge from case studies analysis in rural and peri-urban areas in Colombia, through interviews, surveys, document reviews, observation exercises, and a comparison with the literature. Internal characteristics include proper infrastructure conditions, user satisfaction, best management practices, social capital, be a development catalyzer, and environmental awareness. External characteristics include easy access to subsidies, efficient communication channels with authorities, continuous training, and environmental legislation/education. This study concludes that enforcing these characteristics will strengthen the existing institutions and can provide a sustainable solution for rural water supply issues. Author Keywords: community-based water supply organizations, costs, management, financial sustainability, rural Colombia, state subsidies, water tariffs
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
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
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
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
Understanding the Role of Lived Experience in Community Leaders’ Vision and Governance of Economic Development and Sustainability in Rurally Situated Small Cities
Sustainable development is normative - making decisions in the present that construct the experience of place for the future. It is primarily driven by global measures developed to meet the needs of the present while ensuring future generations can meet their own needs. These measures attempt to balance economic prosperity, social justice, and environmental stewardship in many nations. This attempt to balance a plurality of outcomes creates socio-political tensions in choosing between alternatives. These barriers and tensions are characterized through the neoclassical vision of: economics as a science, utility maximization, and alienation of people. This thesis explores the lived experience of community leaders in Peterborough, Ontario as they navigate a contentious and current debate of where to relocate a casino in the region. The results focus on the tension experienced by community leaders as they seek to balance elements of care, while preserving neoclassical values of growth, individualism, freedom of choice, and interconnectedness. The thesis concludes with a model that works towards an understanding of the role of lived experience in economic development decision-making in rurally situated small cities, and recommendations for further research and policy recommendations. Author Keywords: economic development, governance, lived experience, small city, sustainable development, vision
Active Neighbourhoods Canada
This research considers the historic context of power that planning operates within, and looks at the ways in which certain community members are marginalized by traditional planning processes. Participatory planning, which has theoretical roots in communicative planning theory, may have the potential to shift the legacy of power and marginalization within planning processes, resulting in improved planning outcomes, more social cohesion, and a higher quality of urban life. I used a community-based research approach to evaluate approaches to participatory urban planning in Peterborough, Ontario. I worked with a community-based active transportation planning project called the Stewart Street Active Neighbourhoods Canada project. This thesis evaluates the participatory planning approaches employed in the project, and determines if they are effective methods of engaging marginalized community members in planning. The research also identifies the professional benefits of participatory planning, and examines the barriers and enablers to incorporating participatory approaches into municipal planning processes. Finally, I developed a set of recommendations to implement participatory planning approaches more broadly in the city of Peterborough, Ontario. Author Keywords: active transportation, communicative planning theory, community-based research, community engagment, participatory planning, public participation

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