Planning, property, and housing advocacy in Vancouver and Toronto: Land Use Challenges and the Logic of Supply

When and Where

Friday, April 08, 2022 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
Online via Zoom


Trevor Wideman, CMHC-SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellow, CrimSL


Abstract: The cities of Vancouver and Toronto, like many others nationally and globally, are experiencing crises of affordable housing. In both cities, voices across the political spectrum are calling for housing development and suggesting policy and planning solutions. In response, municipal interventions are being proposed and implemented. While ongoing research has done much to reveal causes of housing unaffordability in Vancouver and Toronto, such scholarship has yet to unpack the ways in which land use planning, urban governance, and private property affect, and are affected by, the activities of housing advocates. Building on my previous work on the historical interconnections between land use planning and property in Canada, I examine how advocates exploit, subvert, or push against municipal planning and governance and affect residential development. Drawing on qualitative interviews with 32 advocates in Toronto and Vancouver, observations of key municipal government and planning events, and reviews of policy and planning documents, my early analysis suggests that housing advocates regularly call upon logics of private property to communicate moralities of land use and claim rights to urban space. Such logics range from property as a commodity (an ‘object’ that can be bought and sold), to property as propriety (defining who and what is proper to a place) – sometimes shifting between both depending on the advocacy goals. Notably, such property logics are embedded (implicitly or explicitly) in the arguments that advocates make to planners and municipal governments around increasing or maintaining particular forms of housing. I suggest that the use of property logics as an advocacy strategy, purposefully or not, can perpetuate a narrow view of “what is possible” while maintaining exclusionary tendencies historically embedded in the Canadian urban planning system. As such, my ongoing research aims to uncover more equitable and inclusive strategies of housing advocacy in relation to municipal governance and land use planning.

Zoom Information

Topic: Post-Doctoral Fellow Talks: Trevor Wideman
Time: Apr 8, 2022 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 882 8264 1051
One tap mobile
+16473744685,,88282641051# Canada
+16475580588,,88282641051# Canada