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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Role of civil society organizations in sustainable transportation planning : a case study of better environmentally sound transportation (BEST) in Vancouver, Canada Furukawa, Satomi

Abstract

Much has been researched and written about automobile dependency, its history, and the various problems it causes, but only a little has been written about the opportunities and constraints faced by civil society organizations as they work to reverse the political and social dynamics that create the cycle of automobile dependency. This thesis studies the opportunities and constraints that transportation-advocacy and -education groups face in working toward their goals of promoting sustainable transportation planning, through a study of the role and experience of Better Environmentally Sound Transportation, BEST, a well-organized sustainable transportation advocacy and education organization in the Greater Vancouver region. The findings of this research show that civil society can play an important role in sustainable transportation planning, and does so in the case of BEST'S work in Vancouver. Opportunities that BEST has captured in promoting sustainable transportation planning are: willingness of local and regional policy- and decision-makers to work on sustainable transportation issues, existence of other sustainable initiatives in the region, growing awareness of sustainable transportation related issues amongst general public, and willingness of competent and committed people to lead and play active roles in civil society organizations like BEST. Constraints facing BEST in promoting sustainable transportation planning, however, lie in: a lack of secure and stable core funding for organizations like BEST, limited access to decision-making at higher levels of government such as the Provincial, the complex and counterintuitive nature of sustainable transportation issues, and a variety of structural, institutional, and political constraints. The research identified potentially useful strategies to overcome these constraints including: making alliances with scholars and other NGOs, having a wide range of programs mobilizing the organization's membership and the public at large, becoming pro-active in securing the necessary core funding, and strategic planning for prioritizing its work.

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