UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Dwelling, tourism and sustainability on the rural-urban fringe : a Bowen Island case study Pettipas, Donna Nona


The thesis examines the question of why people live in rural communities, what draws them to these communities and the significance of social sustainability. The focus is on the view of individual perspectives that could be obtained through the process of completed questionnaires and interviews. Results of the combined questionnaire and interviews were referenced to earlier studies and to government statistics. The community of Bowen Island served as the case study, a rural community with a historical and evolving relationship to Metro Vancouver, British Columbia. The research activity was designed to be one of information and knowledge gathering, rather than an issue-oriented approach. The approach taken is one of discovering patterns of shared values and the adaptive practices of islanders in their homes and community environs. Transcribed interview responses were grouped by enquiry type to facilitate comparison between participants across BI neighbourhoods, resulting in qualitatively rich personal narratives about home, habitat and community engagement. The community is physically engaged in a beautiful mountainous and marine environment, which is also a tourist destination. Fun is a quality of BI’s community celebrations along with spirituality and a connection to nature, the backdrop to a privileged life-style; some with ‘plenty of dough’ most somewhere in-between ranging to bohemian artists, sharing in the community dynamic. The major attraction and commitment to stay on BI was the desire to achieve and retain a connection to nature. Diverse opinions expressed by the respondents were accepted and respected by the group, the open discussions and commitment to the Island has resulted in a shared value system while respecting diversity. The major concern of the Islanders is the feeling of uncertainty resulting from issues of governance. Shifts in ethical norms and lifestyle patterns warrant examination: the dynamics that constitute a cohesive community can be seen in the lived experiences and individual intentions of people on an island such as Bowen where the cultural collective aspires to live very close to nature at the wild land and rural-urban fringe.

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