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UBC Theses and Dissertations

SMARTer Growth : a suite of neighborhood design evaluation tools to help sustain a desired quality of life : a case study city of Kelowna Masoud, Abdul Rahman Mahmoud


Auto-dependency has triggered many public health challenges for North American citizens including increases in physical inactivity rates, road collisions, and Greenhouse Gas emissions. As a result, there has been a growing interest in addressing these challenges by promoting more sustainable and livable neighbourhood planning. In response, researchers from the University of British Columbia and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation have developed the SMARTer Growth (SG) neighbourhood design principles. However, no previous research has evaluated the impact of the full-fledged SMARTer Growth design principles on travel behaviour and community quality of life. To conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the SG principles, this research developed an agent-based model that evaluates the impact of neighbourhood design on travel pattern by simulating agents’ daily trip activities. It employs a framework that integrates Random Utility Maximization-based modelling with reinforcement learning concepts to account for the bounded rationality and knowledge learning process. Moreover, the model utilizes the Diffusions of Innovations Theory to account for the impact of social interactions by simulating how agents share their knowledge and propagate information. It also accounts for the iterative feedback process between agents’ actions and the environment. In addition, a suite of tools has been identified to evaluate the impact of neighbourhood design on community quality of life, including: i-THRIVE, air quality, noise pollution, walkability, bikeability, transitability, playability, and social interactions. The agent-based model and the QoL suite of tools were utilized to evaluate the outcome of three scenarios in three urban centres in Kelowna, BC; the three scenarios are 1) existing, 2) 2040 business as usual, and 2040 SG. The results of the agent-based simulation show promise, as retrofitting the three urban centres using the SG design principles resulted in significant modal shift towards active transportation and reduction in auto use compared to the existing and 2040 business as usual scenarios. Moreover, the QoL evaluation revealed that applying the SG design principles improves walkability, bikeability, playability, and decreases air and noise pollution on local roads.

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