Geog 101 day 20
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GEOG 101: Day 20. Sustainable Cities. Housekeeping Items. Committee of the Whole City Council Meeting at 4:30 today in Shaw Auditorium, Convention Centre. Colliery Dam park is on the agenda.

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GEOG 101: Day 20

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GEOG 101: Day 20

Sustainable Cities

Housekeeping Items

  • Committee of the Whole City Council Meeting at 4:30 today in Shaw Auditorium, Convention Centre. Colliery Dam park is on the agenda.

  • The ‘save Colliery Dam’  group is also organizing a rally at the Vancouver Island Conference Center this Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 4:00 pm.  They are hoping 1,000 people will show up. News Flash! It could be today – check their Facebook page.

  • This weekend there is a Urban Design charrette on the future of Harewood: Friday 1- 6 p.m. and Saturday 9-4 p.m. To pre-register, call (250) 755-4483 or e-mail Chris Sholberg ( Once registered, you will learn the venue.

Housekeeping Items

  • Any questions about the assignments?

  • We will be discussing urban sustainability today and will also have a guest speaker in the second half on the subject of “greenwash.”

  • We will be on a very tight schedule, so we may not get time before the end of the semester for people to share a little bit about what they learned from their life cycle analysis; we’ll see.


Upon successfully completing this chapter, you will be able to

  • Describe the scale of urbanization

  • Assess urban and suburban sprawl

  • Outline city and regional planning and land use strategies

  • Evaluate transportation options

  • Describe the role of urban parks

  • Analyze environmental impacts and advantages of urban centers

  • Assess the pursuit of sustainable cities

Central Case: Planning For Long-Term Urban Sustainability On Vancouver

  • 2003: citiesPLUS team from Vancouver area won the Grand Prize for their 100-year sustainability plan

  • Initiated the Sustainable Cities PLUS Network to transform cities

  • New urban developments incorporate principles of sustainability in Vancouver

Our Urbanizing World


Our urbanizing world

  • Urbanization = the movement of people from rural to urban areas

    • The greatest change of human society since its transition to a sedentary agricultural lifestyle

  • Cities offer many features that are beneficial to the environment

Industrialization has driven the move to urban centres

  • Urban populations are growing for two reasons

    • Human population is growing overall

    • More people are moving from farms to cities

  • In Canada, the establishment of transportation was a central factor in urban development

  • Worldwide, urban population is growing

  • 80% of Canada’s populations is considered urban

    • 28% of urban population lives in suburbs – areas that are peripheral to – and strongly “influenced” by – cities or towns


Today’s urban centers are unprecedented in scale and rate of growth

  • Mega-cities: 20 cities are home to more than 10 million residents

    • Tokyo, Japan, is home to 36.5 million people

    • Mexico City and New York City, each hold 19 million

  • Metropolitan areas: The majority of urban dwellers live in smaller cities

  • Cities in the developing world are growing at rates of 3% to 5% per year and even higher


Defining Homelessness

Definitions of homelessness vary dramatically. Are you homeless if your lack of shelter is “voluntary”? What if you are unable to maintain a job and home because of mental illness or an addiction? Are you homeless if you live in wholly inadequate housing? (What if the “housing” is a cardboard box or a shipping crate?) Are you homeless if you are a transient worker, sleeping each night, for example, at the construction site where you will work the next day?


Defining Homelessness (cont’d)

Can you think of some ways in which environmental change could cause homelessness, perhaps on a temporary basis? How do environmental change and environmental hazards make life difficult for homeless people? Try to think beyond the borders of the familiar, and consider what life is like for homeless people in the developing world.

Are there homeless people in the town or city where you are living? If you think not, look again. Many homeless people are “invisible,” either because they prefer to keep a low profile or because we choose not to see them.

Various factors influence the geography of urban areas

  • Climate, topography, and the configuration of waterways help determine if a small settlement becomes a large city

  • Many well-located cities have acted as linchpins in trading networks

    • Draw in resources from outlying rural areas

  • Globalization has contributed to decentralized population centres in developed nations

People have moved to suburbs

  • 1960s: Affluent city dwellers moved to cleaner, less-crowded suburbs

  • Suburbs had advantages of space and privacy

    • More space, better economic conditions, cheaper real estate, less crime, and better schools

  • But natural space decreased with increasing suburbs

    • People had to drive everywhere, increasing traffic congestion




  • The term sprawl has been laden with meanings and connotes different things to different people

  • To some – esthetically ugly, environmentally harmful, and economically inefficient

  • To others – collective outgrowth of reasonable individual desires and decisions

  • Sprawl = the spread of low-density urban or suburban development outward from an urban center

Today’s urban areas spread outward

  • Urban and suburban areas have grown spatially

  • Suburban growth entails allotting more space per person than does city dwelling

    • Many researchers define sprawl as – the physical spread of development at a rate greater than the rate of population growth


Today’s urban areas spread outward (cont’d)

  • Sprawl varies from one area to another

    • Temperature climate, decentralized employment, early public transport infrastructure, unincorporated land in urban fringe

  • Several types of standard development approaches can result in sprawl

    • Uncentred commercial strip development

    • Low-density single-use development

    • Scattered, or leap-frog, development

    • Sparse street network


Sprawl has several causes

  • Human population growth

  • Per capita land consumption – each person takes up more land

    • Highways, automobiles, technologies, telecommunications and the internet

    • People like having space and privacy

    • Social perception

What is wrong with sprawl?

  • Transportation: people are forced to drive cars

    • Pressure to own cars and drive greater distances

    • Increases dependence on nonrenewable petroleum

    • Lack of mass transit options

    • More traffic accidents

  • Pollution from sprawl’s effects on transportation

    • Carbon dioxide, nitrogen- and sulfur-containing air pollutants

    • Motor oil and road salt from roads and parking lots

What is wrong with sprawl (cont’d)?

  • Health: promotes physical inactivity because driving cars replaces walking

    • Increases obesity and high blood pressure

  • Land use: less land is left as forests, fields, farmland, or ranchland

    • Loss of ecosystem services, recreation, aesthetic beauty, wildlife habitat

  • Economics: drains tax dollars from communities

    • For roads, water and sewer systems, electricity, police and fire services, schools in new developments


Sprawl near you

  • Is there sprawl in the area where you live?

  • Are you bothered by it, or not?

  • Has development in your area had any of the impacts described above?

  • Do you think your city or town should use its resources to encourage outward growth, or should densification be encouraged?

Creating Liveable Cities


City and regional planning are means for creating liveable urban areas

  • Planning = the professional pursuit that attempts to design cities so as to maximize their efficiency, functionality, and beauty

    • development options

    • transportation needs

    • public parks

  • Regional planning = deals with same issues as city planning, but with broader geographic scales that must coordinate with multiple municipal governments

Zoning is a key tool for planning

Zoning = practice of classifying areas for different types of development and land use

Zoning gives planners a means of guiding what gets built where

Opponents say that zoning’s government restriction violates individual freedoms

Proponents say government can set limits for the good of the community

[Zoning is often misused]


Zoning and Development

Imagine you own a 5-ha parcel of land that you want to sell for housing development – but the local zoning board rezones the land so as to prohibit the development. How would you respond?

Now imagine that you live next to someone else’s undeveloped 5-ha parcel. You enjoy the privacy it provides – but the local zoning board rezones the land so that it can be developed into a dense housing subdivision. How would you respond?

  • What factors do you think members of a zoning board should take into consideration when deciding how to zone or rezone land in a community?

Urban growth boundaries and greenbelts are now widely used

  • Urban Growth Boundaries

    • Concentrate development

    • Prevents sprawl

    • Preserve working farms, orchards, ranches, and forests

    • May reduce infrastructure costs

    • Increases housing prices within their boundaries

  • Greenbelt = a land use or zoning designation that is intended to contain urban development while protecting natural or agricultural lands

“Smart growth” aims to counter sprawl

  • Smart growth = urban growth boundaries and other land use policies to control growth

  • Proponents promote:

    • Healthy neighborhoods and communities

    • Jobs and economic development

    • Transportation options

    • Environmental quality

  • Building “up, not out”

    • Focusing development in existing areas

    • Favoring multistory shop-houses and high-rises

“Smart growth” aims to counter sprawl (cont’d)

  • Principles of “Smart Growth”

    • Mixed land uses

    • Compact building design

    • Range of housing opportunities and choices

    • Walkable neighborhoods

    • Distinctive, attractive neighborhoods

    • Preserve open space

    • Develop existing communities

    • A variety of transportation choices

    • Predictable development decisions

    • Community collaboration in development decisions

“New urbanism” and “liveable cities” are now in vogue

  • New urbanism = neighborhoods are designed on a walkable scale

    • Homes, businesses, and schools are close together

  • Functional neighborhoods in which most of a family’s needs can be met without the use of a car

  • Aims is to accommodate diversity

McKenzie Towne in


Transportation options are vital to liveable cities

  • A key in improvement of quality of urban life

  • Options include:

    • Public buses

    • Trains and subways

    • Light rail = smaller rail systems powered by electricity

  • Cheaper, more energy efficient, and cleaner

  • Traffic congestion is eased

Transportation options are vital to liveable cities (cont’d)

  • Establishing mass transit is not always easy

  • Governments can encourage mass transit

    • Raise fuel taxes

    • Tax inefficient modes of transport

    • Reward carpoolers

    • Encourage bicycle use and bus ridership

    • Charge trucks for road damage

    • Stimulate investment in renewed urban centers

Parks and open spaces are key elements of liveable cities

  • City dwellers want to escape from noise, commotion, and stress of urban life

  • Natural lands, public parks, and open space provide greenery, scenic beauty, freedom, and recreation

  • Protecting natural lands becomes more important with increased urbanization

    • Because urban dwellers become more isolated and disconnected with nature

City parks were widely established at the turn of the last century

  • Esthetic interests of the educated elite

  • Recreational interests of the broader citizenry

  • Ecological interests of urban wildlands

    • Biophilia – natural affinity for contact with other organism

Smaller public spaces are also important

  • Playgrounds, community gardens

  • Greenways = strips of land that connect parks or neighborhoods

    • Protect water quality

    • Boost property values

    • Corridors for wildlife movement

  • Ecological restoration in cities

Urban Sustainability


Urban resource consumption brings a mix of environmental impacts

  • Resource sinks

  • Efficiency

  • More consumption

Urban resource consumption brings a mix of environmental impacts (cont’d)

  • Resource sinks = cities must import resources from long distances

    • We rely on large expanses of land elsewhere for resources

    • We need natural land for ecosystem services (air and water purification, nutrient cycling, water treatment)

Urban resource consumption brings a mix of environmental impacts (cont’d)

  • Efficiency - Maximize the efficiency of resource use and delivery of goods and services

  • The density of cities facilitates the provision of social services

    • Medical services

    • Education

    • Water

    • Sewer systems

    • Waste disposal

    • Public transportation

Urban resource consumption brings a mix of environmental impacts (cont’d)

  • More Consumption = heavy use of outside resources extends ecological footprints of cities to a level far beyond their actual sizes

    • Cities take up only 2% of the land surface, but consume more than 75% of the world’s resources

    • Urban dwellers have far larger ecological footprints that rural dwellers

    • But, urban residents tend to be wealthier, and wealth correlates with consumption

Urban intensification preserves land

  • Because people are packed densely in cities, more land outside cities is left undeveloped

    • If cities did not exist, we would have much less room for agriculture, wilderness, biodiversity, or privacy

  • Leaves unfragmented habitat for wildlife

Urban centres suffer and export pollution

  • Cities export wastes

  • Urban heat island effect = cities have ambient temperatures that are several degrees higher than the surrounding areas

  • Noise pollution = undesired ambient sound

    • Can induce stress and harm hearing

  • Light pollution = lights obscure the night sky, impairing the visibility of stars

Urban centers foster innovation and offer cultural resources

  • Cities promote a flourishing cultural life

    • Spark innovation and creativity

    • Promote education and scientific research

    • Are engines of technological and artistic inventiveness

    • Serve as markets for organic produce, recycling, and education

  • Urban-based programs (e.g. EcoSpark, Toronto Lichen Count)

Some seek sustainability for cities

  • Urban ecology = cities can be viewed as ecosystems

    • Maximize efficient use of resources

    • Recycle

    • Develop environmentally friendly technologies

    • Account fully for external costs

    • Offer tax incentives for sustainable practices

    • Use locally produced resources

    • Use organic waste and wastewater to restore soil

    • Encourage urban agriculture


  • As half the human population has moved to urban lifestyles, our environmental impact has changed

  • Resources must be delivered over long distances

  • Urban sustainability makes urban areas better places to live

    • Expanding transportation options to relieve congestion

    • Ensuring access to park lands and greenspaces prevents us from becoming isolated from nature

  • Continued experimentation in cities will help us


_______ occurred as a result of deteriorating conditions in the inner cities

a) Movement to suburbs

b) Movement to rural areas

c) Development of inner cities

d) Decentralization of city management


“Sprawl” is defined as…?

a)Increased resource extraction from rural areas

b)Creating more livable cities

c)The spread of low-density development outward from an urban center

d)The spread of high-density development outward from an urban center


Which of the following is NOT a cause of urban sprawl?

a)People like their privacy

b)Technology allows people to work from home

c)Technology frees businesses from having to be located in the city

d)All of the above are causes of sprawl


City planning tries to design cities so they….

a)Maximize their efficiency and beauty

b)Maximize their efficiency, even at the expense of their beauty

c)Maximize their beauty, even at the expense of their efficiency

d)Increase the tax base for needed infrastructure


Urban growth boundaries….

a)Encourage development in the suburbs

b)Can be implemented only in wealthier cities

c)Keeps growth within existing urbanized areas

d)Are no longer a viable option for U.S. cities


In “new urbanism,” cities are designed around…?

a)Mass transit

b)Cars and highways


d)All of the above


Which statement is false, regarding cities?

a)They must import resources from far away

b)They rely on large expanses of land for ecosystem services

c)People living in cities feel more connected to nature, particularly since TV

d)Cities tend to concentrate people, allowing for more efficient consumption of resources

QUESTION: Interpreting Graphs and Data

What major conclusion can be drawn from this graph?

a) Urbanization will decrease in less developed regions

b) Urbanization will decrease in more developed regions

c) Urbanization will increase most rapidly in less developed regions

d) Urbanization will increase most rapidly in more developed regions

QUESTION: Interpreting Graphs and Data

What result can be anticipated from the following type of development?

a) Urban sprawl will increase

b) Urban sprawl will decrease

c) People will leave this area and move back to the city

d) People will suffer stress from overcrowding

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