UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The city and the spectacle : social housing, homelessness, and the 2010 winter Olympic Games Pentifallo, Caitlin


This dissertation consists of a critical examination of the City of Vancouver’s urban policies during a significant era of urban governance: the lead up to the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. To do so, I will create two embedded case studies: one, featuring the creation of a social housing legacy to be left in the Athletes’ Village in Southeast False Creek, and the other on the enforcement of policies affecting or alleviating homelessness in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. How social housing and homelessness came to be incorporated into the event’s objectives, how the discussions and deliberations around these issues proceeded, and how the 2010 Winter Olympic Games impacted the City of Vancouver’s policy making process in the years leading up to the start of the 2010 Games will all be explored in the chapters to follow. The methodological approach I applied provides insights on how policies, operationalized under the guise of preparing to host a sport mega-event, were able to alter the political and social trajectory of the City of Vancouver. Guided by the overarching theoretical framework offered by critical urban theory, I relied on critical policy studies and critical discourse analysis. By carefully tracing the origins, nature, and intent of these policies as they unfolded in various iterations between 2000 and 2013, it was my ambition to contribute to a broader understanding of how sport mega-events influence urban policies and social outcomes. The 2010 Games, once marketed as a socially inclusive event, instead brought an intense wave of punitive urban measures that functioned to criminalize homelessness. Instead of filling the rooms once occupied by Olympians with those in need of housing, the number of social housing units made available shrunk gradually over time, eventually dwindling to but a handful of units actually constituting social housing. In critically disassembling the policies that bore direct influence on social housing and homelessness, my findings demonstrate the ways in which policy-making processes are altered, abandoned, or exacerbated as the mega-event drew near.

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