Intersections 2014-2015

Food Deserts Exist in Calgary, Canada?

Date: November 4, 2014 

Abstract: A significant amount of research has examined supermarket access and identified food deserts among high-need residents. However, little research has explored how access to healthy food changes when taking farmers markets into consideration. Furthermore, few researchers have emphasized communities with large populations of children and seniors. 

This study investigates supermarket and farmers market accessibility in the city of Calgary, Canada. Two communities with high children and senior populations but low-income level and limited access to healthy food sources have been identified as food deserts. The results also suggest that although the overall alleviating effects of farmers markets on access to healthy food are limited, they provide immediate neighbourhoods with significant benefits.

Presenter: Wei Lu (Wes) and Feng Qiu (Ph.D) 

The Politics of Space, State, and NGOs in China

Date: January 27, 2015 

Abstract: The Chinese state, in the twenty-first century, is an increasingly heterogeneous entity comprised of multiple layers and spaces. This diversity is, in part, attributable to the rise of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in China. This paper examines how state NGOs transform each other. I argue that we need to problematise and thus reconceptualise the Chinese "state" to include spatial dimension. I demonstrate this through a case study of migrant NGOs in Beijing and Shanghai where these NGOs are making strong efforts to engage with central and local authorities. I contend that the local state is becoming more crucial in the work and activities of NGOs. It is the growing presence of the local state that constructs the notion of the state as a spatial entity and thus, layered.

Presenter: Jennifer Hsu 

Canadian Urban Policy Governance: Toward a Long-Range View

Date: February 24, 2015 

Abstract: At the heart of many policy debates in Canadian cities is the question of governance: the question of which institutions or actors should have the authority to control a particular area of urban policymaking. For decades, these debates have produced arguments for and against "horizontal" (special vs. general-purpose institutions) and "vertical" (local vs. regional vs. provincial institutions) governance changes. In this project, I am exploring this long history of urban policy governance in Canada by surveying the development of governance institutions in five urban policy domains: public health, public schools, policing, water governance, and public transit. In each of these domains, I have assembled details concerning governance arrangements over the long term in six Canadian cities: Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, and Hamilton. This presentation will describe the project, provide an overview of the dataset, and present a preliminary overview of the long-term development of urban policy governance in Canada based on the new datasets that I have assembled. 

Presenter: Jack Lucas 

Boom/Bust and Evolving Governance

Date: March 4, 2015 

Abstract: In this presentation we will talk about a research project in the early stages. The research project focuses on governance mechanisms for boom & bust cycles in Alberta and British Columbia, on tempering those cycles, on the need for institutional innovation and experiment, the need to rethink relations between levels of governance, and on the need to rethink what 'assets' and 'actors' are from a long- term perspective. We address the concept of dependencies, as being dependent on resources, and as rigidities in the reproduction of governance, limits on its innovation, e.g. towards building capacity for buffering boom/bust.

Presenter: Dr. Kristof Van Assche (CRSC, Faculty of Extension) 

Resiliency and Resource-Based Communities: A Canadian Case Study

Date: April 7, 2015 

Abstract: Resource-based communities (RBC) are a significant feature of the economic geography of Canada. For many of these economies, particularly those based on minerals and petroleum resources, the past 20 years has witnessed tremendous growth. For example, energy exports contributed $113 billion to the Canadian economy in 2011 alone. At the center of this boom is the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB). Like no other RBC in Canadian history, the region’s population has doubled to over 100,000 in less than 10 years. This growth has caused the RMWB to struggle to keep pace with the infrastructural needs of its residents (e.g. health, education, recreation facilities). Despite such concerns, the population of the region is estimated to increase to 250,000 within 30 years. Using the RMWB as a case study, this project examines Canada’s premiere resource-based region from a long-term resiliency perspective. This project uses key informant interviews with local stakeholders to examine local perceptions of growth and development and their impact on community resiliency. We identify resident retention and resident involvement as the two primary concerns of residents linked to resiliency. This exploratory study suggests the need for further research to examine (1) the perceived linkages between local infrastructural ideals and institutional governance, (2) the potential role of external information sources (e.g. the mainstream media) on perceptions of growth and development, and (3) the need to develop a “tool-kit” of informative resources for future resource-based communities grappling with rapid growth and attempting to become resilient to the associated challenges. 

Presenter: Leith Deacon  

Building Sustainable Communities

Date: June 2, 2015 

Abstract: How can we build cities to promote greater sustainability? What can we do to promote less resource use and lower our dependence on the automobile? This presentation will explore the relationship between characteristics in the built environment, resource consumption and travel behavior through an exploration of Michigan communities. The state of Michigan is at the forefront of U.S. urban decentralization, with over sixty percent of the Michigan population living in suburbs. This presentation will focus on how the distortion of the urban built environment generates resource inefficient and environmentally destructive human behavior. The nature of resulting development patterns, the inefficient low-density urban decentralization, not only facilitates excessive degradation of natural ecological systems, but also reduces the economic performance of urban regions and the welfare of communities. 

Presenter: Igor Vojnovic