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Liberated Arts: A Journal for Undergraduate Research






This paper is meant to serve as an entry point into the topic of Canadian suburban sustainability initiatives. The goal is to assess whether Canadian suburbs can strive to be more than just local growth machines set on consuming greenspace for the sake of ever-more development. Oakville, Ontario, a city located within one of the most rapidly expanding suburban populations in North America, is looked at specifically to determine whether city officials can promote economic growth while simultaneously taking into consideration ecological impacts. Oakville’s sustainable development journey is measured and evaluated using Clarence Stone’s regime analysis. This research has found that Oakville possesses many of the demographic characteristics that would increase its likelihood of achieving its sustainable development goals outlined in its Livable Oakville Official Plan. The case studies of Saw-Whet Golf Course and Glen Abbey Golf Course are then used to put Oakville’s sustainable development goals to the test. The city failed to protect Saw-Whet Golf Course which lent credence to Harvey Molotch’s growth machine hypothesis. However, the failure to protect Saw-Whet provided an opportunity for civic learning and incentivized citizens to pursue collective action when Clublink submitted its request to demolish Glen Abbey Golf Course. The Save Glen Abbey coalition succeeded by urging city officials to designate the course as a heritage site. In summary, this research has found that suburbs can achieve their sustainable development goals provided the right structural conditions are in place. Motivated and dynamic civic leaders are also necessary to ensure that the city maintains its commitment to achieving these goals.


This paper received the distinction of Highly Commended in the Undergraduate Awards Global Summit 2019. It was published in Huron College's Liberated Arts: A Journal for Undergraduate Research and is openly available at

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