The Urban Politics and Governance research group at McGill University

UPGo, the Urban Politics and Governance research group at McGill, addresses pressing urban governance problems with rigorous and publicly-oriented research. Our research themes are 1) local and regional economic development; 2) urban sustainability; 3) housing policy. UPGo is led by Prof. David Wachsmuth of the School of Urban Planning.

UPGo Blog

News, research summaries, and more

Are Los Angeles' new home sharing laws being enforced? UPGo fact sheet

A brief analysis of the state of enforcement of LA’s new STR ordinance

Making beautiful inset maps in R using sf, ggplot2 and cowplot

A step-by-step guide to inset map making in ggplot2 in R

Talking to Airbnb hosts: Perceptions and contradictions in the experiences of commercial STR operators

Part 2 in a series discussing findings from interviews with STR hosts
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David Wachsmuth

Canada Research Chair in Urban Governance

McGill University

Lab director

David Wachsmuth is the Canada Research Chair in Urban Governance at McGill University, where he is also an Assistant Professor in the School of Urban Planning and an Associate Member in the Department of Geography. He directs UPGo, the Urban Politics and Governance research group at McGill, where he leads a team of researchers investigating pressing urban governance problems related to economic development, environmental sustainability, and housing markets. He is the co-lead of the Adapting Urban Environments for the Future theme of the McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative, where he is part of a broad interdisciplinary team developing new ways of conceptualizing, measuring, and improving urban sustainability.

A major focus of his work has been explaining a transition in policy and planning from identifying the city as a global sustainability problem to identifying the city as a solution to global sustainability problems. He is one of the world’s leading experts on the impacts of short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb on cities around the world, and consults widely with municipalities and community organizations on designing appropriate regulations. Dr. Wachsmuth has published widely in top journals in urban studies, planning and geography, and his work has been covered extensively in the national and international media, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, and the Washington Post. He is the Early Career Editor of the journal Territory, Politics, Governance and serves on the editorial boards of the journals Urban Geography and Urban Planning.

Interests

  • Local sustainability planning
  • Regional economic development
  • Housing policy
  • The platform economy

Education

  • PhD in Sociology, 2014

    New York University

  • MSc in Urban Planning, 2008

    University of Toronto

  • BA (honours) in International Development Studies and Classics, 2004

    McGill University

Projects

Adapting urban environments for the future

A theme of the McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative

Can cities save the planet?

A collaborative project with UC Santa Cruz on global urban sustainability thought and practice

Cities, short-term rentals, and the sharing economy

A SSHRC-funded investigation into the impacts of short-term rentals on cities

Libraries as urban infrastructure

An investigation into the social context and social benefits of urban libraries in Canada

People

Principal Investigator

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David Wachsmuth

Canada Research Chair in Urban Governance

Local sustainability planning, Regional economic development, Housing policy, The platform economy

Graduate Students

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Charlotte Belot

Master’s research assistant

Equity and sustainability, Community-based planning, Short-term rentals and housing affordability

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Amy Bolt

Master’s research assistant

Community mobilization, Short-term rentals and the housing market, Public space re-design and gentrification

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Danielle Girard

Master’s research assistant

Environmental policy and planning, Urban governance, Community-led planning

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Danielle Kerrigan

PhD research assistant

Affordable housing models, Social relations in the housing sector, Short-term rentals and the platform economy

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Lou Seltz

Master’s research assistant

Housing affordability and alternative tenure models, Sustainability planning, Food security

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Nat Pace

Master’s research assistant

Critical cartography and geovisualization, Local sustainability planning, Urban economic geography

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Robin Basalaev-Binder

Predoctoral research assistant

Social and racial justice in planning, Housing and immigration, Short-term rentals, Urban sustainability

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Mikael Brunila

PhD research assistant

Spatial data science, Bayesian inference, Natural language processing

Undergrads

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Bowen Zhang

Undergraduate research assistant

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Cayce McClenen

Undergraduate research assistant

Alumni

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Jennifer Combs

Former Master’s research assistant

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Andrea Shillolo

Former Master’s research assistant

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David Chaney

Former Master’s research assistant

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Jamie Rathwell

Former Master’s research assistant

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Xuanxiao Wang

Former Master’s research assistant

Recent & Upcoming Talks

Short-term rentals in Halifax: Politics and policy

David Wachsmuth gives a public lecture at the Halifax Central Library on short-term rentals in Halifax, their impact on local housing …

The politics and policy of short-term rentals

David Wachsmuth gives a public lecture at UPEI on the relationship between short-term rentals and local housing markets.

Global problems, city solutions: A mixed methods analysis of local climate adaptation plans

Hillary Angelo and David Wachsmuth present preliminary findings from their research on local climate planning.

The regional geography of short-term rentals

David Wachsmuth and Danielle Girard present their research on a regional studies approach to short-term rentals.

A vision for living in a sustainable future

David Wachsmuth discusses the challenges and possibilities of urban life in a sustainable future.

Recent Publications

Open data science at UPGo

All of the code for our quantitative analysis projects is freely available for replication and repurposing on our team Github page. We often work with proprietary data which we are unable to share, but where we are using public data we share that as well.

We are also working to develop strr, an R package for cleaning, analyzing and visualizing short-term rental data. We expect to release a stable version to CRAN later in 2019, but the development version is now available for testing and feedback.

UPGo on Github

Contact