Spring 2021 - URB 630 G100

Urban Development, Planning and Policy (4)

Class Number: 4641

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM

    5:30 PM – 9:20 PM
    HCC 1900, Vancouver



The focus of this course is the evolving relationship between state interventions into the city, and dynamics of urban development. The class emphasizes the historical context to urban planning and policy, with particular reference to the Canadian city.


When I began teaching this course in the early 2000s, the story of Vancouver’s development and planning was one of celebration and triumph. “The Vancouver Achievement,” as its planning and development paradigm was called by author John Punter, had put Vancouver on the map as a promising model for cities in the global and neoliberal era that could be dense yet liveable, sustainable yet competitive, collaborative with and responsive to the need of locals yet attractive to  global capital and migrants, and able to extract community amenities from real estate developers who nevertheless scrambled for the chance to build.  Today, the story is more complicated, as the city struggles with enormous challenges of affordability and inequality wrought in part by the Vancouver planning and development paradigm; the city’s “green” slogan has been questioned, especially in the context of a growing climate emergency; and as the call, mandates, and action for urban decolonization, reconciliation, and redress have challenged the planning and development status quo.


The course will use the Vancouver story as a backdrop to understand many of the dominant practices, paradoxes, opportunities, and challenges of contemporary urban planning and development in the global North.

How the Course Will Run (subject to minor changes based on my ongoing learning about remote teaching and learning)

We’ll meet for 2-2.5 hours via Zoom each week from 6:00-8:30 (at the latest!). We’ll have one 10-minute break from 6:55-7:05, and another 5-minute break from 7:55-8:00 when the course runs past 8:00.

In order to facilitate discussion, before each class meeting students will be required to annotate course readings through the Perusall app embedded in the course Canvas page.  

Planned Face-to-Face Activities
One face-to-face activity for this course is planned for Feb. 23.
Students should consider this plan and date as tentative and subject to confirmation by the instructor in the course syllabus (which students will receive on the first day of classes) as well as subject to any provincial public health restrictions in effect at the time.


  • Participation 15%
  • 2 position papers 30%
  • Teaching facilitation 15%
  • Case Study 30%
  • Persuall annotations 10%



We will be reading a wide variety of journal articles, book chapters, and urban planning, and policy documents. All will be available electronically, via the SFU Library, the course Canvas site, or the internet.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).