CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teacher - Suburbs: Enemy of the Environment

Geography, Media Studies
3 lessons
To consider the environmental impact of the growth of suburbs in Canada
Using a variety of web-based resources, students will examine the environmental impact of the creation of suburbs in Canada.

Lesson Plan


In the 1950s the rise of suburbs was, in part, possible because of the availability of cars. If you moved to the suburbs, you still had to travel into the city to work. This resulted in more cars, greater consumption of gas, and more air pollution. Similarly, something as seemingly harmless as the desire for conformity in the suburbs, led to the extensive use of pesticides in order to create the "perfect lawn." Many environmental problems that are still prevalent today are closely linked to the rise of suburbs: the impact of highway construction on rivers and the subsequent effects of erosion; urban sprawl; and the loss of farmland.

The Task

Students will create a storyboard for a documentary on an environmental issue that has resulted, wholly or in part, from the rise of suburbs. It could be one of the issues described in the introduction or one that students identify.

Students will conduct in-depth research on the environmental issue including its causes, the extent of the problem, those involved in the issue, actions that have been taken to date to deal with it and suggestions for further actions.

Students' storyboard should include:

An introduction that gives an overview of the environmental issue

Background information about the issue

Factors, including the impact of suburbs, that have contributed to the problem

Statistical data that supports their findings

Actions taken by individuals, groups, and government to deal with the issue

Regulations that have been passed to deal with the issue

Suggestions for future actions/regulations to deal with the issue

The Process

Students will work in small groups. They should begin their research on the topic So Long Cities, Hello Suburbs on the CBC Digital Archives website, specifically the clips "White-picket dreams", "The best roast beef in town", "Art in the '905'", and "The new (sub)urbanism".   On the CBC site, students will find links to assist them in their research. Students can do further research using archives of newspapers, magazines, and television broadcasts. Groups should note all resources consulted and cited.


Students will display and describe their storyboards and discuss the environmental issues. Identify actions that individuals or the class can take to address these issues. Invite a representative from an environmental group or government department to class to discuss the results of this work.

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