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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Expelled from the garden? Understanding the dynamics of green gentrification in Vancouver, British Columbia Sax, Daniel Louis


Green gentrification scholarship has indicated that instances of urban greening intended to rectify inequities, can contribute to or elicit shifts in property values, encouraging speculative commercial and retail investment, disrupting existing socio-spatial relationships, and threatening the housing security of residents. Our research contributes to this emergent field of inquiry by 1) synthesizing the academic literature to produce a conceptual framework for green gentrification, and 2) exploring the motivations, justifications, and planning processes leading to the integration of a 1-acre urban farm within an ongoing large-scale redevelopment in Vancouver, Canada. In addition, we situate the experiences of an urban farm currently operating on the site within the narrative of redevelopment to understand the contradictory position in which urban residents practicing urban greening are sometimes placed — both implicated in and impacted by green gentrification processes. First, our research presents a novel conceptual framework for the study of green gentrification, based on findings from a scoping review and dimensional analysis conducted across green gentrification, urban greening, and related literatures. We identify three principal dimensions of green gentrification as it relates to urban greening — conceptual foundations; design and intent; and socio-spatial change — as well as six related sub-dimensions. Next, we apply this framework to our case site. A suite of qualitative methods informs our case study and offers an in-depth understanding of decision-making leading to the integration of the 1-acre urban farm. Our findings reveal that the proposed 1-acre urban farm affirms a hegemonic, performative notion of sustainability useful in attracting a privileged clientele to the future development. In addition, we highlight the role of the existing farm in inspiring the image of urban agriculture promoted by developers. We note that the farm’s vision, mission, and identity have been co-opted by development agents and used as a branding tool to promote and support the public perception of the redevelopment. Our findings offer insight into novel relationships between urban agriculture, large-scale redevelopment, and green gentrification. What’s more, they contribute to existing discourse concerning the limitations of development processes to account for the risks of green gentrification.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International