Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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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
An Analysis of Zoning By-laws and Urban Agriculture in the City of Peterborough, Ontario
Urban agriculture (UA) is becoming increasingly prevalent in Canadian cities. Despite this municipal zoning by-laws often do not address UA explicitly. Using eleven interviews of urban agricultural participants a case study of the City of Peterborough’s zoning by-laws and the barriers they might present to UA was conducted. Research suggests that UA can provide many benefits to urban areas. The analysis found that the City of Peterborough’s zoning by-laws do not directly address UA. In order to enable the development of UA in the City of Peterborough its zoning by-laws will need to be redesigned to address and regulate UA directly. Author Keywords: By-laws, food systems, land use, municipal planning, urban agriculture, zoning
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
Spirituality, Community and Compassion Matter! Exploring Motivators to Providing Holistic Social and Health Services in Peterborough, Ontario
My research explores potential motivators for social and health service providers to be more holistic and compassionate with those they serve. From previous research focused on spirituality, I identified seven additional concepts: faith, religion, community, culture, compassion, wellness, and wholeness. Using elements of Appreciative Inquiry, data was collected through a focus group and an in-depth, online survey. The participants work with Indigenous, religious, other spiritually motivated, or non-spiritual social or health service organizations in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Prototype concept analysis allowed participants to personally define each concept, and then indicate how much each motivated them. Results indicate, regardless of individual demographics, the definitions and motivations are very personal. The concepts with the most to least motivational impact were community, compassion, spirituality, wellness, wholeness, culture, faith and religion. Participants' voices speak directly through this research. I use their suggestions to make recommendations for improving the systems within which they provide service. Author Keywords: community, compassion, health services, indigenous knowledge, social services, spirituality
Factors Influencing the Prioritization of Sites for Conservation on Private Land in Southern Ontario
Conservation organizations use strategic prioritization methods to order complex environments, evaluate landscapes, and distribute efficiently resources for conservation. This study explores how strategic prioritization decisions are made, drawing on a case study of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). This thesis identifies the factors affecting prioritization and their influence on the public perception of the NCC. The case study revealed that the NCC utilizes comprehensive science-based methods when prioritizing for conservation but its methods are also influenced by the 'opportunity function' (funding, threats, public/political support). How these factors are communicated depends on the audience (e.g. NCC Conservation Blueprints stress the scientific value of the environment; the NCC uses its media sources to emphasize the human-environment connection). These differences indicate the multi-dimensional nature of planning for conservation, its links to values emerging from science, politics, and society, and the need for collaborative conservation efforts and earning and maintaining public trust. Author Keywords: biodiversity conservation priorities, collaboration, Nature Conservancy of Canada, opportunity function, private conservation organizations, science-based conservation
Understanding Dimensions of Environmental Sustainability in a Northern Indigenous Context
Although the concept of environmental sustainability has become increasingly popular, the literature offers little practical guidance to direct priorities or actions to support environmental sustainability in northern Indigenous communities. A case study in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, and a systematic literature review was undertaken to understand: 1) what aspects of the local environment are of value to a northern Indigenous community; and 2) what does existing literature identify as key elements of a community-based approach to monitor valued aspects of the environment in a northern Indigenous context. Hopedale residents spoke to the importance of going off on the land and identified a number of categories of places in their local environment of importance to them, including: 1) valued areas for human-use, 2) areas to protect, 3) areas of environmental concern, and 4) areas to monitor. The systematic literature review highlighted trends on community-based monitoring (CBM) publications, and identified key 13 elements of CBM approaches that are pertinent to northern Indigenous communities. Insights from this study will inform environmental planning and management in the case community of Hopedale, as well as offer guidance to enhance current and future CBM activities in the North and elsewhere. Author Keywords: community-based monitoring, environmental sustainability, Inuit, Labrador, participatory mapping, systematic literature review
Developing a Sustainable Resort
Sustainability-related issues have been drawing considerable attention in the resort and hotel industry. This research explores the meaning of a “sustainable resort” and to identify the opportunities and challenges of developing a “sustainable resort” as well as the opportunities and challenges of engaging employees in this process, through a case study of a family resort in Central Ontario, Canada. A significant finding is that a “sustainable resort” in the context of a family business highlights cultural sustainability, which emphasizes on keeping family roots and passing on family legacy, as well as addresses economic, social, and environmental sustainability. The nature of the selected case, a traditional family resort, provides some valuable insights on the issues of sustainability and employee engagement in the resort and hotel industry. To improve sustainable outcomes for the resort, a holistic approach of collaborating with different key stakeholders, particularly emphasizing employee engagement as a core strategy, is proposed. Author Keywords: employee engagement, family resort, resort and hotel industry, sustainability, sustainable development
Cultivating Change
The global food system has been criticized for being environmentally, economically and socially unsustainable. As part of a local food movement, farmers’ markets (FM) are undergoing a revival in response to the escalating food system globalization of the past century. Despite the prevalence of FMs as formalized organizations, there remains a significant range in their operational strategies. Through 41 questionnaires and 17 interviews with market administrators across Ontario, in collaboration with the Haliburton County Farmers’ Market Association, I explored these strategies and analyzed the influence of community characteristics on FM operations. Factors that appear to have a significant impact on FM governance and management are market size and age, willingness to adapt to change, and relationships with external organizations. My findings suggest that democratic vendor engagement and documentation of procedural systems can help optimize market administration. In terms of vendor relationships, primary concerns include regulation of resellers, diplomatic vendor pool design, and creation of a collaborative atmosphere. As well, I conclude that customers are best viewed as socially invested stakeholders with a strong interest in learning about local food production. Author Keywords: farmers’ markets, global food system, local food systems, Ontario farmers’ markets, sustainability
Volunteer Experiences of Place-making for Sustainable Community Development
This thesis explores the experiences of volunteers who came together to redevelop an abandoned convent into The Mount Community Centre (The Mount) for the purpose of sustainable community development. The goal of the research was to explore the relational processes of place-making at The Mount, to be achieved through two objectives: first, to describe the nature of collaboration among volunteers in place at The Mount; and second, to understand the experience of volunteers through their narratives and descriptions, with respect to the influence of The Mount as a place. Methods employed were participant observation and key-informant interviews with 24 participants conducted using a video-documentary approach. The result was a community-based, qualitative case study comprised of volunteer voices, in their collective narrative of experience of The Mount’s development trajectory. A thematic analysis of volunteer narratives indicated patterns of connectivity and the expansion of relational networks of place, implicated in strategic approaches in three experiential phases of Daring, Erring, and Groundswell along the development’s trajectory. In demonstrating how place influences community organization to address needs, The Mount provides an example for future inquiry that contributes to the advancement of knowledge in discussions of voluntarism, place, and sustainable community development. Keywords: Voluntarism, place-making, sustainable community development, community-based research Author Keywords: community-based research, Non-profit sector, Place, Place-making, Sustainable-community development, Voluntarism

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