Comment structurer le problème de l'étalement urbain? : une approche concertée pour représenter la complexité territoriale

Authors: Rondier, Pierre
Advisor: Després, CaroleJoerin, Florent
Abstract: Managing urban sprawl at a metropolitan scale challenges planners to comprehend a complex phenomenon holistically. The complexity comes from the difficulty of building a shared understanding of a problem that is always specific to a particular territory, but which is subject to a range of perceptions among a varied set of stakeholders. Current decision-support tools such as group cognitive mapping are increasingly used to diagnose complex and fuzzy problems, and promise to help develop a shared appreciation of concepts and explanatory mechanisms. However the results obtained often remain questionable in terms of scientific credibility. A preliminary trial of group cognitive mapping was implemented in situ and assessed reflexively between 2006 and 2007. Recommendations for improving the handling of territorial complexity, and for supporting the debate among stakeholders, led to further investigation into how best to consult those with an interest in urban sprawl. An analysis of written press coverage, published between 2006 and 2009, was used to explore stakeholders’ representations, and the potential for networking and interaction between stakeholders. Then, a one-day forum, held in 2009, was organized around twelve discussion groups. This allowed about thirty stakeholders with very diverse roles in the Quebec City metropolitan area to negotiate a shared understanding of sprawl, including the main issues, the explanatory mechanisms, and the priority interventions that should be considered. The result of the forum, expressed as a series of group cognitive maps, and summaries of the negotiation processes that led to them, was then analysed using methods based to a large extent on graph theory. From this we can observe that urban sprawl seems to emerge from complex and tortuous mechanisms, underlying contradictions between desired effects and their counterparts, as well as between individual and collective interests that are hard to reconcile. However, once surfaced, the stakeholders’ representations were more complementary than contradictory, and as a result it was possible to reach a consensus on a shared conceptual model. In the final stage of this research, the group model was rigorously compared to recent and most-cited scientific literature in North America, confirming both its scientific credibility and its applicability. The results thus reveal the relevance of assessing group models built interactively during the consultation process, and this leads to a proposed general approach for handling territorial complexity as a cornerstone of decision-support tools for the diagnosis of urban problems.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2012
Open Access Date: 18 April 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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