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CITY » Projects
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CITY > Projects


The City Institute at York University is the home of several funded research projects. These projects have been developed by members of the Institute and are housed in the CITY offices. Inquiries about these projects and their results can be directed either at the researchers directly or at

Current Projects:


Global suburbanisms: governance, land, and infrastructure in the 21st century

Based on the experience of Canadian suburbanization, and ranging from North America’s wealthy gated communities to Europe’s high-rise-dominated suburbs, the exploding outskirts of Indian and Chinese cities to the slums and squatter settlements of Africa and Latin America, this project is the first to systematically take stock of worldwide suburban developments while analyzing their governance models, land use, infrastructure and suburban everyday life. Contact: Roger Kiel


Guyana4Understanding Geographies of Gendered Insecurities in Georgetown, Guyana

In the current era of neoliberal development, framed in the global south by the policy of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there is a paradoxical occurrence of, on the one hand, increased efforts to lift people out of poverty and on the other increasing levels of insecurity in everyday lives. This interdisciplinary four-year research programme, situated at the intersections of urban, development, feminist and Caribbean Studies, aims to critically examine this paradox via the nexus of gender, poverty and insecurity in Georgetown, Guyana. Contact: Linda Peake

TPS_ETF_SUVThe Policing View: Body Worn Cameras, Surveillance and the Question of Police Accountability

The Policing View is a three-year project, the core objective of which is to offer independent academic inquiry into an area of police, surveillance, and public accountability that has, heretofore, been monopolized by internal police research. This central objective will be addressed through two sets of inter-related empirical and theoretical questions.


Russian_Embassy_in_Helsinki,_LGBT_pavementQueering Canadian suburbs: LGBTQ2S place-making outside of central cities

This research will address key knowledge gaps regarding the lives, service needs, and place-making practices of suburban Canadian LGBTQ2S (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, and Two-Spirit) populations. The dearth of attention to sexuality among suburban scholars and the limited investigation of the suburbs by geographers of sexualities means that we know little about the LGBTQ2S populations living there, or how to situate them within changing suburban landscapes. In Canada, this inattention has significant implications: a limited understanding of the spatial, embodied and discursive dimensions of everyday queer lives in suburbia; an inadequate grasp of the support services and the socially inclusive policymaking needed at the municipal and metropolitan scales; and an inability to imagine suburbia as a queer location. This research uses queer and intersectionality theories to document the geographies of queer suburban lives as they intersect with other minority identity markers (e.g., ethnicity, racialization, class, gender, and age) in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.


IMG_2002 - Version 2The impact of high-rise revitalization on suburban public spaces in Canada and France

In both Canada and France suburban high-rise social housing districts built in the post-war period now pose increasing physical, environmental and socio- economic challenges and have becomes the subject of municipally-led renovation programs. Such programs aim to alter not only the physical structure of high-rise buildings (by recladding the exteriors of high-rises and upgrading individual units) but also re-order the parks, transport hubs, and community spaces that make up high-rise neighbourhoods. Focusing on four case studies where both physical and social neighbourhood changes are stated aims of revitalization programs – Toronto and Hamilton, in Canada;; Paris and Montpellier, in France – this study examines the impact of such programs on the hundreds of high-rise towers, and thousands of residents, encompassed in revitalization plans and through this seeks to provide critical knowledge for improved public space access and enhanced social environments in suburban neighbourhoods. Dr. Roza Tchoukaleyska, Prof. Theresa Enright, Prof. Ute Lehrer

Completed Projects:


Weston Road south of Eglinton northward

Policy Levers to Close Suburban Transportation Equity and Public Benefit Gaps in the Toronto Region

As the region serviced by Metrolinx is at the cusp of major investments into its transit supply and operation systems, we intend to ask what consequences the proposed funding has for the people, communities, and sub/urban municipalities it is meant to provide with better mobility. While the Toronto region is growing by leaps and bounds, we have become aware that such growth occurs increasingly in ways that create more socio-economic and socio-spatial inequalities. Often, the areas with the fastest rising, and most concentrated poverty are also the least well served by mobility infrastructures. We ask specifically whether and how planned transit investments under the Big Move can serve to stave off additional inequalities, whether they might, in fact, improve the situation of people in – often suburban – “transit deserts,” or whether they might, at a minimum, not make things worse for the most vulnerable and immobile groups on our growing city.


Mobilizing New Urban Structures to Increase the Performance and Effect of R&D in Universities and Beyond This project examines the specific conditions under which public investments in R&D can do more to stimulate innovation and economic growth. This synthesis speaks directly to emerging best practices in creating and sustaining effective networks, collaboration and linkages of researchers with firms and communities; the transfer of knowledge from higher education to private and public producers and service firms in urban regions; and in stimulating knowledge receptor capacity in the economy.


Comparing Metropolitan Governance in Transatlantic Perspective: Toronto, Montreal, Paris and Frankfurt

A comparative investigation of the globally-induced transformation of metropolitan governance systems in Toronto, Montreal, Paris and Frankfurt. The focus of this research project, is the urban region with its growing web of metropolitan governance. The emergence of collective action at the metropolitan level in Canada and Europe is examined through infrastructure, public health, green space, and human security.



Socialist Cities in the 21st Century: Modernist Legacies and Contemporary Urban-Policy Making

This project explores the legacies of 20th century socialist urbanism in three cities – Berlin, Hanoi and Stockholm – and considers their impact on urban policy, spatial form and everyday life in the 21st century. Through an exploration of changes underway in districts in each of the case study cities, we address three key questions: How is their socialist and modernist past discursively framed – as a problem or a possibility? In what way can urban politics be considered a confrontation with those legacies? What policy lessons could be applied to Canadian urban regions?


Placing Labour in the New Urban Economy

A collaborative, international research project focusing on the various ‘entrepreneurial’ roles that trade unions have defined in the neoliberal period (1980s – current). Organized labour’s urban strategies may be qualified as entrepreneurial in the sense that unions are assuming an active role in the promotion and re-regulation of their respective sectors, a role which often entails the promotion of ‘high road’ employment practices that overlap with the shared concerns of local governments and locally-dependent firms in workforce development, increased inward investment and competitiveness-oriented social policy, and the interests local communities have in the expansion of employment opportunities and the provision of public services. This research project is structured as a comparative case study with five industry clusters (film industry, tourism, green building, child care, mass transit) being compared across two case cities (Toronto, New York City).


ISSC Workshop PhotoAddressing Gendered Insecurities In The Urban Global South

This project will establish an interdisciplinary research programme, situated at the intersections of urban, development, and feminist studies, aims to critically examine the aforementioned paradox via the nexus of gender, poverty and insecurity in the urban global south. Based on five case studies in the small sized city of Georgetown, Guyana, Tehran, Iran, the medium sized city of Ibadan, Nigeria, and the mega cities of Mumbai, India, and Shanghai, China, the programme has three empirical dimensions. Contact: Linda Peake


In-Between Infrastructure: Urban Connectivity in an Age of Vulnerability
With city planning focused primarily on the downtown and suburban regions, what lies “in between” has yet to be explored. Using the region surrounding York University, this research project investigates the relationships between investments in highways, airports, institutions and industrial structures, and the frequently under-serviced residential and natural areas that lie among them.


Canadian Cities on the Edge: Reassessing the Canadian Suburb

New, complex and contradictory landscapes of diverse social, infrastructural and political-economic characteristics have appeared within pre-existing urbanism. Despite their ubiquitous presence, suburban society, space and politics have been unduly sidelined in various bodies of research. The aim of this project is to provide a more holistic understanding of the city’s varied landscapes, everyday realities, and contemporary political infrastructures allowing us to grasp the fluidity and dynamism (and emerging contradictions) shaping present-day urban experiences.


Social Sustainability, Diversity and Public Space in Three Canadian Cities

This project compares diverse, low-income communities in Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary, studying community-member experiences and their perceptions of the opportunities and barriers within public space and institutions, and articulating what needs to change in order to promote a more sustainable and equitable urban future.


Urbanity, Culture and the Law: Reassessing the Global City (a multimedia book)

Based on interdisciplinary research in cities around the world, this project examines the ways in which the local and the global constitute each other, approaching the global city as a process and product which is established through competing social forces operating at multiple scales. Uniquely, the research developed is being disseminated through a book, short documentary feature, series of photographs, and a music/sound CD.


The Visible City Project + Archive

This project brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines – fine arts, architecture, urban planning and policy studies, as well as numerous public and non-profit arts organizations – to share information and examine common problems facing Canada’s largest cities. The project investigates how creative practices can improve the quality of urban life and planning in Canada.


Environmental Governance and Planning of Urban Infrastructure

Urban governance of energy and water systems has long been based on assumptions of the traditional infrastructure model, which no longer apply. Considering the restructuring of urban infrastructures, this research project explores the emerging socio-technical regimes of infrastructure provision and investigates new forms of environmental governance and planning. Empirically, the study focuses on energy and water management in Toronto, Los Angeles and Berlin.


Hard Shells – Soft Services: Mobilizing Knowledge for Housing and Social Health

The relationship between the city and its outlying region has been studied over several decades now, and has brought problems to the foreground that exist in both places but are experienced in different ways. This research project studies the relationship between affordable housing and health, and in particular the relationship between dis- and re-investment into the built environment and social health provision.


Producing Spaces of Urban Nature

This research project explores the political use and construction of spaces of urban nature in the metropolitan regions of Birmingham (UK) and Toronto (Canada). The project is specifically concerned with those greenbelts that have been deployed by urban planners as a basis upon which to enact different metropolitan projects and urban regional visions. By combining an analysis of greenbelt politics in Birmingham and Toronto we hope to gain significant comparative insights into the use of spaces of urban nature within very different socio-political contexts and time frames.


The City in the New Millenium: An International and Comparative Perspective

The City Institute entered an international research and teaching community with the University of Bologna, the future Museum of the City of Bologna, and the University of Denver as part of their now joint International Center for Civic Engagement. The research will focus on the comparison of a few exemplary cities and their different experiences and transformations (such as Berlin, Bologna, Denver, Las Vegas, Toronto).


Environmental Justice

This is a joint initiative of York University and the City of Toronto to create two benchmark documents for the discussion on this subject and perhaps to prepare some future cooperation on the matter. This joint effort offers a great opportunity to create concrete working relationships between the City of Toronto and two emerging York research institutes, IRIS and CITY, on an important subject matter of urban environmental interest.


Making Immigrant Neighbourhoods in Miami’s and Toronto’s In-between Cities

Immigration and urbanization settlement patterns in Toronto and Miami are moving away from the traditional inner city immigrant neighbourhoods to more peripheral, suburban locations. We will expand this perspective to the particular “in-between spaces”, which have now become ports of entry for many immigrants, particularly for those from non-European origin.


Urban Sustainability and Environmental Research in Canada: Prospects for Overcoming Disciplinary Divides?

The report resulting from this research will not attempt to unravel the future of funding commitments to the environment and the ongoing research that is needed to better shape it. But it will work to situate the present environmental moment in Canada in relation to past such moments.



Placing Labour in the New Urban Economy is a collaborative, international research project focused on the various ‘entrepreneurial’ roles that trade unions have defined in the neoliberal period (1980s – current). Organized labour’s urban strategies may be qualified as entrepreneurial in the sense that unions are assuming an active role in the promotion and re-regulation of their respective sectors, a role which often entails the promotion of ‘high road’ employment practices that overlap with the shared concerns of local governments and locally-dependent firms in workforce development, increased inward investment and competitiveness-oriented social policy, and the interests local communities have in the expansion of employment opportunities and the provision of public services.