UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Amenity valuation : the role of heritage in the physical and social production of Vancouver Miller, Courtney James


The intensification of downtown Vancouver is the result of a structured fiscal, design and planning project. Cardinal to this effort is the realization of public amenities through the development process. However, those involved in the struggle to control the provision of amenities deny that no less than the determination of legitimate public goods is at stake in the contest. Employing Bourdieu's understanding of capital and related description of social space, the objective of the thesis is to examine how amenity production is oriented by the public benefit's utility to the dominant interest of capital accumulation. Reviewing the adoption of discretionary zoning and its corollaries to planning permission explicates the relation of a legalized aesthetic to the process of amenitization.The understanding of physical heritage as a public value is among the derivatives of this association with the introduction of planning mechanisms to encourage the retention of historic structures.The subsequent naturalization of heritage as public value and concurrent endowment of its capacity to facilitate development serves as an appropriate vehicle in the consideration of amenity valuation. By specifying the physical form and the legitimated community value of approved development, City reports and bylaws are the primary means of study. Analysis of these documents finds heritage to be the principal amenity realized through development mechanisms and illustrates its substantial influence on the physical and social space of the city. Case studies further support the thesis objective by addressing the constitution of public amenities aligned with the accommodation of the dominant interest; the unbounded consideration of heritage supports the retention of the physical features most conducive to intensification and results in greater development ability in terms of both private capital and in the realization of more bounded social amenities. The misrecognition of this key utility lends considerable authority over the physical transformation of the city and, more importantly, facilitates control of the related social environment.The thesis concludes that heritage serves the ideological continuation of the field of power, and cautions that recent efforts to consider less tangible qualities are symptomatic of this process.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International