Curriculum Guideline

Geographies of Metro Vancouver

Effective Date:
Course Code
GEOG 1150
Geographies of Metro Vancouver
Geography and the Environment
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
4 hours per week
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods, including:

  • Lectures
  • Guest speaker presentations
  • Local field work or field trips
  • Videos
  • Small group discussions
  • Individual or group projects
  • Practical in-class exercises
  • Map and data analysis
Course Description
This course introduces students to the geographies of Metro Vancouver with particular attention to the ways in which urban space is shaped by both local and global processes. The course examines the natural and human landscapes of the Lower Mainland, focusing on key contemporary issues related to urbanization, including urban development and the built environment, urban planning and policy, urban space and social identities, and human-environment relations in the city. In addressing these topics, student will gain an understanding of core geographic concepts such as place, landscape, scale, and region, as well as relevant approaches to spatial analysis.
Course Content

NOTE: Content may vary according to the instructor’s selection of topics and changing current affairs.

  1. Metro Vancouver in geographic context: Metro Vancouver as a place and region; the site and situation of cities in the Metro Vancouver; the region’s place in provincial, national, and global context.
  2. Understanding the physical landscape: the geophysical processes that shape the region’s natural landscape; plate tectonics, glaciation, formation of the Fraser River valley and delta, vegetation, and ecosystem services.
  3. Resettlement: the pre-colonial and post-contact human landscapes; First Nations settlements and land use, municipal colonialism.
  4. Urbanization and suburbanization: historical and contemporary growth and urban development in the Metro region.
  5. Public space and urban publics: public space; urban design; how race, ethnicity, gender, and/or sexuality shape and are shaped by urban space; urban indigeneity, immigration, multiculturalism, queer geographies, and ethnic enclaves.
  6. Housing the region: housing availability and affordability; social housing, gentrification, proposed solutions with attention to anti-poverty and housing movements. 
  7. Safety and security: emergency management; public safety, policing; natural hazards, seismic risk, and preparedness.
  8. Food geographies: local food production and consumption geographies; the rise and demise of the Agricultural Land Reserve; food security, and urban agriculture.
  9. Urban climatology: air quality issues, urban heat island effects; region-specific climate change impacts and mitigation efforts.
  10. Planning for sustainability: regional and municipal governance; sustainability and livability; transportation management and funding, solid and liquid wastes, parks and recreation, open space, biodiversity and habitat protection.
  11. Selling the city: place-marketing, tourism, and mega-events. 
  12. Future geographies: emerging trends and possible directions.
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the students will be able to:

  • Synthesize concepts and techniques in urban geography.
  • Critically assess contemporary issues facing Metro Vancouver. 
  • Situate Metro Vancouver in provincial, national, and global context. 
  • Apply geographic theories to emerging urban issues.
  • Communicate orally and in writing about trends and challenges of urban development and urban planning, the role of urban space in the formation of social identities, and human relation impacts on the natural environment in urban space.
  • Use both qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze urban patterns and policies in the region.
  • Interpret and utilize relevant maps, graphs, and charts, in assessing local geographic patterns and phenomena.
Means of Assessment

The evaluation will be based on course objectives and be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written syllabus outlining course objectives and evaluation specifications during the first week of class. An example of an evaluation scheme is as follows:

Preparation and participation:   5%
Field trip: 10%
Map and graph analysis: 10%
Course project/paper: 25%
Midterm exam: 25%
Final exam: 25%
Textbook Materials

A coursepack will be used and a combination of academic and news media readings will be updated periodically. Examples of typical books and articles are as follows:

  • Berelowitz, L. (2005). Dream City: Vancouver and the Global Imagination. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre.
  • Coupland, D. (2009). City of Glass: Douglas Coupland's Vancouver. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre.
  • Crawford, E. & MacNair, E. (2012). BC Agriculture Climate Change Adaptation Risk + Opportunity Assessment Series: Fraser Valley & Metro Vancouver. Victoria: British Columbia Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative, Government of British Columbia.
  • Davis, Chuck. (2011). The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver. Vancouver: Harbour Publishing.
  • Demers, C. (2009). Vancouver Special. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press.
  • Evenden, M. D. (2004). Fish Versus Power: An Environmental History of the Fraser River. New York; Cambridge, U.K: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hayes, D. (2006). Historical Atlas of Vancouver and the Lower Fraser Valley. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre.
  • Holden, M., & Larsen, M. T. (2015). Institutionalizing a policy by any other name: in the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan, does climate change policy or sustainability policy smell as sweet?. Urban Research & Practice, 8(3), 354-370. 
  • Hutton, T. A. (2008). The New Economy of the Inner City: Restructuring, Regeneration, and Dislocation in the Twenty-First Century Metropolis. New York: Routledge.
  • Jonas, A.E.G., McCann, E., & Thomas, M. (2015). Urban Geography: A Critical Introduction. Malden, MA: Wiley.
  • McWhirter, G, (Ed.) (2009). A Verse Map of Vancouver. Vancouver: Anvil Press.
  • Miewald, C., & McCann, E. (2014). Foodscapes and the geographies of poverty: Sustenance, strategy, and politics in an urban neighborhood. Antipode, 46(2).
  • Peck, J., Siemiatycki, E., & Wyly, E. (2014). Vancouver's suburban involution. City, 18(4/5), 386-415. 
  • Price, M. F. (2013). Mountain Geography: Physical and Human Dimensions. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Punter, John (2003). The Vancouver Achievement. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
  • Rosenau, M. L., Angelo, M., & Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council. (2007). Saving the Heart of the Fraser: Addressing Human Impacts to the Aquatic Ecosystem of the Fraser River, Hope to Mission, British Columbia. Vancouver: Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council.
  • Wall, J. (2011). Vancouver appearing and not appearing in Fred Herzog’s photographs. In Fred Herzog Photographs Vancouver. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, pp 21-24.
  • Wilson, S. (2010). Natural Capital in BC’s Lower Mainland: Valuing the Benefits from Nature. Pacific Parklands Foundation. Produced by the David Suzuki Foundation. Vancouver, BC.
  • Wood, D. A. (2007). To regionalize or not to regionalize? A study in the politics of policing in the Greater Vancouver Regional District. Police Practice & Research, 8(3), 283-297. 
  • Wynn, G., & Oke, T. (Eds.) (1992). Vancouver and its Region. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.






Which Prerequisite