“Challenging Traditional Notions of Property in Land Use Planning”

Interdisciplinary Workshop, York University June 9-10, 2016

This workshop, supported by Osgoode Hall Law School and The City Institute at York University, is aimed at early career scholars in law, geography, urban studies and other cognate disciplines.  The goal of the workshop is to rethink, challenge, and critique ‘traditional’ forms of property, in theory and practice, within the context of land use planning. Property in the common law tradition is conceived as a right to something, whether physical or not, that is disconnected from the object or idea itself. Property interests are almost always hierarchical and exclusionary.

An emerging body of critical legal scholarship posits that the right to exclude should not be considered the core of private ownership, arguing instead that property is rooted in more a complex set of social relationships. Interdisciplinary legal geography scholarship similarly challenges the hierarchical and exclusionary notions of property law and instead embrace a plurality of legal orders and a messy collection of interests. Land use planning conflicts over privately owned land can be used to reveal the complexity of contemporary property relations. A critical challenge is to confront complex property rights that exist in built environments, triggering multiple actors such as local and provincial governments, First Nations, land developers, neighbourhood associations, and the public. At the same time, legal systems acknowledge that persons are entitled to equal treatment within the applicable administrative and political bodies that shape and resolve planning disputes. To effectively resolve conflicts related to spatial development, a deeper understanding of the complex interactions between land use planning, governance models and resulting property rights is required.

This two-day interdisciplinary workshop will showcase the work of Nicholas Blomley (Professor, Simon Fraser University), Gerda Wekerle (Professor Emeritus, York University), and Mariana Valverde (Professor, University of Toronto) as keynote speakers. The workshop will include four thematic workshops, each with 3-4 participants and faculty discussants who will provide feedback on the papers. Workshop papers may be submitted to the Journal of Law & Social Policy published by Osgoode Hall Law School.

If you are interested in attending, please contact Alexandra Flynn (aflynn@osgoode.yorku.ca).

Keynote speakers:

Nicholas Blomley (Professor, Simon Fraser University)

Mail AttachmentNicholas Blomley is Professor of Geography at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He is a geographer, with a general interest in law, and a particular interest in property in land. His work includes the tracing of property in many conflicts and social relations, including gentrification, urban gardening, the municipal regulation of panhandling and, most recently, indigenous-state treaties.  His current work focuses on the use of ‘area restrictions’ included in bail and sentencing conditions imposed in the context of criminal proceedings involving marginalized groups of people. He is also part of a large collaborative project exploring the liquidation of Japanese-Canadian property after WWII.

Gerda Wekerle (Professor Emeritus, York University)

Mail AttachmentGerda Wekerle is Emeritus Professor a the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Her award-winning work focuses on growth, urbanization, sprawl and nature, public policy, local government and local politics, social movements, urban agriculture, and gender and the neoliberal city. Her research and work with women’s organizations in the 1990s successfully led to improvements in Toronto Transit Commission services for women, including requesting stops after 9 pm, designated waiting areas, better camera systems, and a women’s security committee to advise on the design of the Sheppard subway. Dr. Wekerle retired from York University in 2015.

Mariana Valverde (Professor, University of Toronto)

valverde2Mariana Valverde is an award-winning professor at Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal studies at the University of Toronto, where her current areas of focus are urban law and governance (historically and in the present), and, at the theoretical level, Foucault, sexuality studies, theories of spatiotemporality, and actor-network theory. She has authored numerous books, co-edited collections, journal articles and popular publications, and has been a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada since 2006. In addition to other projects, she is the principal investigator for a SSHRC-funded project, "Planning by contract?" (2013-1016), which illuminates how legal tools from private law, such as contracts, as well as the governance structures developed for and by public-private partnerships, are changing local and municipal governance. She is also writing in a historical sociology of urban regulation, examining how legal and policing tactics have been used to draw or reinforce lines separating 'good' from 'bad' neighbourhoods.


Workshop Schedule

Letter from Journal of Law & Social Policy 

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