Offered in 2014


Post-Suburban City-Building: Vancouver and its Region

Until recently most development outside the Central Business District has come in the form of single-family housing with back and front yards, complete with quiet, tree-lined streets. In the past few years, the traditional neighbourhood has been turned upside down. Its single-family character is being modified and, more than ever, new development is coming in the form of lage multi-family, multi-storey buildings. The word "density" elicits myriad negative and positive reactions. In light of these changes is it possible to maintain a certain quality of life?

Referencing our collective personal experiences, we will explore the changes around us and delve into the backstory of where we've come from as a city and metropolitan region, and discover where we're going.

A $56 discount will be applied automatically for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

Week 1: Modern Urban Planning: A Brief History

Urban planning has a rich history, but we will hone in on key modern milestones. From Sir Ebenezer Howard (1850–1928) to Jane Jacobs (1916–2006) and others, we will discover a practice that is as much informed by perceptions of social desire and need as by aesthetics and form.

Week 2: Planning Legislation

We will examine legislation from the rezoning process to public hearings, making sense of the sometimes quite complex story of how individual buildings and whole neighbourhoods come into being. We’ll also spend some time on the Vancouver Charter to learn what makes Vancouver different from its neighbors.

Week 3: Regionalism 1 – A Federation of Cities

We will explore the canonical texts of regional planning, from the Lower Mainland Regional Planning Board to the Metro Vancouver Regional District, and find how city and transportation planning have been affected. We’ll also learn how Vancouver fits into a larger picture.

Week 4: Regionalism 2 – Planning in the Lower Mainland

The Great Flood of the mid-1940s is now just a distant memory, but that event has some eerie similarities to today’s climate change concerns. We will take a look at this early discourse of regional planning for hints of how our region might deal with future catastrophes.

Week 5: Case Study 1: The City of Vancouver

“Vancouverism” has been a widely studied model for livable development. We will look at the roots of this technique, and identify where it is today. But we will also look at more recent development trends in the city such as the Cambie and Kingsway Corridors, and find whether the city is developing a new model, or falling victim to real estate economics.

Week 6: Case Study 2: The City of Burnaby

We will explore how the City of Burnaby took influences from regional plans to customize a blueprint for its development and learn more about the Metrotown and Town Centre concepts. We’ll also discuss whether these exercises might be a viable model for suburban revitalization.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Slides
  • Essays (applicable only to certificate students)

Who should take this course?

This course is for anyone who is interested in learning more about the development of suburban areas and the post-war restructuring and rethinking of urban space.

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory”.

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

Recommended reading

Hall, Peter, Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988

Harcourt, Mike, and Ken Cameron and Sean Rossiter, City Making in Paradise: Nine Decisions that Saved Vancouver. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2007

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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