Recent Sightings

A round-up of recent sightings on-line (cause where else am I gonna show up?)

June through July saw me presenting at the Canadian Sociological Association (CSA) meetings, joining a panel presentation with the Vancouver City Planning Commission (VCPC), and giving an invited talk with the QMI / Urbanarium Urban Lunch Series ahead of the forthcoming visit by Alain Bertaud. Details, Abstracts, Slides, and Video Links (where available) below!

CSA Talk on “Zoning Regimes and the Development of Multi-Family Housing in Vancouver” co-authored with Jens von Bergmann within the panel Canadian Policy Recommendations from Sociology (presented June 1) SLIDES

ABSTRACT: Research increasingly suggests the strong role of zoning as a constraint upon urban development in North America. In particular, zoning restricts parcels available for multi-unit housing by design. As an obscure and largely municipal policy, the content and direct effects of zoning often escape careful research attention. Recently we obtained CMHC support for a project documenting and codifying municipal zoning across the 21 municipalities of Metro Vancouver ( In addition, the project explores historical change in zoning within the City of Vancouver. In this paper we directly explore and systematize changes in the City of Vancouver’s zoning regimes as they bear upon the development of multi-unit housing. We then connect changes in zoning regime to changes in urban development patterns from the initiation of zoning (across the 1920s) to the present day, highlighting the changing processes by which regimes have enabled new multi-unit housing. Overall the evidence suggests a strong and determinative role for zoning regimes in limiting multi-unit housing, opening up our discussion of several suggestions for policy reforms aimed at better meeting regional housing needs.

CSA Talk on “The Shifting Sovereignty of Property: From Lords of the Land to Landlords (and back again?) in Three Short Steps” within the panel on Property and its Consequences (presented June 3) SLIDES

ABSTRACT: I draw from Vancouver history and the legal perspective of property as sovereignty to document shifts in the sovereignty afforded by urban property. Initially through colonial history the landed lords of Vancouver could improve, construct upon, regulate, subdivide, lease, and dispose of their properties with few constraints. Provincial law and municipal incorporation into the City of Vancouver bound lords to one another and a set of ever-growing regulations, stripping away key aspects of sovereignty. I work through three moments in this transformation, including early bylaws, zoning, and residential tenancy regulation. These moved lords of the land closer to landlords, standardizing housing while removing lordly powers to build, regulate, subdivide, and lease as they would. I briefly consider two implications: 1) Evidence suggests that limitations on lordly powers to build and subdivide have dramatically constrained housing options in Vancouver, though semi-illicit persistence of such powers has continued. 2) The stripping of landed sovereignty and municipal (as well as provincial) standardization of housing provides the basis for at least one understanding of the commodification of housing as a process. Finally I describe recent walking back of municipal (and provincial) constraints along with contestation of underlying sovereignty claims by local First Nations.

VCPC Invited Panel on Is Vancouver Building Enough Housing? (July 6). With SLIDES from my short presentation on the Central Question at hand.

Urbanarium Urban Lunch Series Invited Talk on Order Without Design: City Density Gradients co-authored & presented with Jens von Bergmann with Video & SLIDES

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