Ren Thomas

Associate Professor

Ren Thomas

Fax: 902-423-6672
Mailing Address: 
5410 Spring Garden Road PO Box 15000, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 4R2
Research Topics:
  • housing, transportation, immigration in urban centres


  • PhD, Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia
  • MA, Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia


  • PLAN 1001: Introduction to Community Design
  • PLAN 2012: Housing Policy
  • PLAN 3115/5115: Social Justice
  • PLAN 4500: Thesis Project
  • PLAN 6304/6307: Conference Module

Research Interests

Dr. Thomas conducts research in housing policy and transportation policy and planning. She is particularly interested in case studies, which allow her and her students to conduct in-depth analysis of policies and programs, comparisons across policies, and meta-analysis to determine more generalizable trends. Her current research includes:

  • “Challenges for Making TOD Equitable in Mid-Sized Cities: Changing Neighbourhoods in Malmö, Sweden, and Kitchener, Canada” (2019-2021, K2 (Nationellt Kunskapcentrum för Kollectivtrafik/Swedish Knowledge Centre for Public Transport), (Co-I with Lina Olsson, 2019-21)
  • "Rosengård: values and challenges in the shadow of an urban development process", K2 (Nationellt Kunskapcentrum för Kollectivtrafik/Swedish Knowledge Centre for Public Transport) Grant (P.I. Jonas Alwall, 2019-2021)
  • "Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in the early stages of planning processes – improved tools for navigating collaborative complexities and private sector rationalities (International Advisory Committee member, K2 (Nationellt Kunskapcentrum för Kollectivtrafik/Swedish Knowledge Centre for Public Transport) Grant, P.I.s Robert Hrelja, Lina Olsson, 2020-2022) 
  • "Addressing the Knowledge Gaps in Meeting the Housing Needs of Older LGBT Canadians: From Research to Policy to Practice" (SSHRC Partnership Development Grant – Collaborative Housing Research Network, P.I. Jacqueline Gahagan, 2019-2020)
  • "Understanding barriers to affordable housing implementation: A meta-analysis of case studies in Canadian housing policy" (SSHRC Insight Development Grant 2018-2020).
  • "Over the line: A bilateral conversation on race, place, and the environment" (SSHRC Connection Grant 2017, P.I. Ingrid Waldron).
  • "Neighbourhood inequality, diversity, and change: Trends, processes, consequences, and policy options for Canada’s large metropolitan areas (SSHRC Partnership Grant 2014-2019, P.I. David Hulchanski)

Selected Publications

  • Redden, M., Gahagan, J., Kia, H., Humble. A. M., Stinchcombe, A., Manning, E., Ecker, J., de Vries, B., Gambold, L. L., Oliver, B., & Thomas, R. (2021). Housing as a determinant of health for older LGBT Canadians: Focus group findings from a national housing study. Housing and Society.
  • Thomas, R. (2020). Will only the strong survive? Municipal approaches to rental housing in Canada. Canadian Journal of Urban Research 29(2): 87-101.
  • Thomas, R. (2020). Social equity and disadvantage. In Carey Curtis (ed.) Handbook of Sustainable Transport, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
  • Thomas, R. (2020). Transit-Oriented Development: Learning from International Case Studies. Springer (Palgrave MacMillan).
  • Thomas, R. (2019). Rental housing approaches across Canada. Plan Canada 59(3): 16-18.
  • Thomas, R. (2019). Transit-Oriented Development: What can Canadian planners learn from others? Plan Canada 59(2): 19-21.
  • Thomas, R., Pojani, D., Lenferink, S., Bertolini, L., Stead, D. and van der Krabben, E. (2018) Is transit-oriented development (TOD) an internationally transferable policy concept? Regional Studies. DOI:
  • Thomas, R. and Terashima, M. (2017). Aging Atlantic cities: Challenges and potential solutions for planners. Plan Canada 57(3): 8-11.
  • Thomas, R. (2017) The Urban Transport Crisis in Emerging Economies (book review). Journal of Planning Education and Research. DOI: 10.1177/0739456X17707812
  • Thomas, R. (2017) Town and Crown: An Illustrated History of Canada’s Capital (book review). Journal of Planning Education and Research. DOI 10.1177/0739456X16688769
  • Thomas, R. (ed.) (2016) Planning Canada: A Case Study Approach. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.
  • Thomas, R. and Bertolini, L. (2015) Policy transfer among planners in transit-oriented development. Town Planning Review 86(5) 537–560. DOI: 10.3828/tpr.2015.32
  • Thomas, R. and Bertolini, L. (2015) Defining critical success factors in TOD implementation using rough set analysis. Journal of Transport and Land Use. DOI: 10.5198/jtlu.2015.513
  • Thomas, R. (2015) Changing Lanes: Visions and Histories of Urban Freeways (book review). Canadian Journal of Urban Research 24(1).
  • Thomas, R. (2015) Remaking the City Grid (book review). Spacing 36: 60.
  • Thomas, R. and Bertolini, L. (2014) Beyond the case study dilemma in urban planning: Using a meta-matrix to distil critical success factors in transit-oriented development. Urban Policy and Research 32(2): 219-237. DOI: 10.1080/08111146.2014.882256
  • Thomas, R. (2014) Tipping Points. In A. C. Michalos (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research, Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. Volume 11, 6667-6670.
  • Thomas, R. (2013) Viewing immigrants’ housing and neighbourhood choices through the lens of community resilience. Surveys and Perspectives Integrating Environment and Society (S.A.P.I.E.N.S.) 6(1).
  • Thomas, R. (2013) Resilience and housing choices among Filipino immigrants in Toronto. International Journal of Housing Policy 13(4): 408-432. DOI: 10.1080/14616718.2013.840112
  • Thomas, R. (2013) Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives (book review). Journal of Planning Education and Research 33(2): 245-247.
  • Thomas, R. (2011) Foundations of Governance: Municipal Government in Canada’s Provinces (book review). Canadian Journal of Urban Research 20(1): 164-166.
  • Thomas, R. (2010) “Why can’t we get around?” Travelling under constraints in Metro Vancouver. Canadian Journal of Urban Research 19(1): 89-110.
  • Thomas, R. (2009)  Tomorrow’s transportation demographics: Youth and young adults. Plan Canada 49(4): 22-25.
  • Thomas, R. (2008)  Engaged or disinterested? Youth political and civic participation in Canadian transportation planning. Critical Planning 15(1): 121-139.

Memberships and Service

  • Co-Chair, Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission (Dec 2020-May 2021)
  • Member, Canadian Institute of Planners
  • Academic Director, Canadian Institute of Planners Board of Directors (2020-2022)
  • Member, Planning Institute of British Columbia
  • Founding Fellow, MacEachen Institute of Public Policy and Governance Member, Standing Committee on Transport and Land Development, Transportation Research Board (2019-2021)
  • Reviewer, Journal of Transport and Land Use (2013-present), Canadian Geographer (2012-present), Canadian Journal of Urban Research (2011-present)

Selected Honours and Awards

  • Centre for Teaching and Learning Change One Thing Challenge, 2017 Recipient
  • Canadian Institute of Planners Award of Merit (2017, Planning Publications) for Planning Canada: A Case Study Approach