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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Livable neighbourhoods in multicultural cities : immigrant women’s experiences and preferences Ebneshahidi, Marjanossadat


Immigrant women’s needs and their experiences of neighbourhood livability in multicultural countries such as Canada have been demonstrated to be worthy of study because they face barriers to settlement, accessing supports, and social integration. This dissertation, therefore, aims to achieve a deeper knowledge of immigrant women’s experiences in residential neighbourhoods and specifically asks the main question of what makes a neighbourhood livable for them in multicultural cities? This study was conducted in the Metro Vancouver region of British Columbia, Canada, using mixed methods. The findings of this study have been organized into three major manuscript-based chapters. Using a survey, the first manuscript examines how immigrant women perceive the importance of livability factors and tests the combined effect of those factors on their neighbourhood selection. The results stress the importance of neighbourhood safety, housing affordability and quality, and proximity to public transit. This manuscript also argues that immigrant women who valued socio-cultural amenities/events, ethnolinguistic signs, and social contacts among neighbours preferred to live close to co-ethnics. Finally, this study reveals that participants who highly valued the factors of nightlife and proximity to workplaces, restaurants, and cafes had a tendency toward Vancouver neighbourhoods, while those who valued the factors of proximity to schools and daycares, police stations, and having friendly neighbours had a tendency toward suburban neighbourhoods. Data for the second manuscript was collected through interviews. Exploring how newcomer women experience the social aspects of neighbourhood livability, this manuscript identifies four potential actions to make neighbourhoods socially livable for newcomer women: boosting social cohesion, building multicultural neighbourhoods, developing settlement supports, and improving neighbourhood safety. The research data in the final manuscript was drawn from mental mapping exercises, investigating how newcomer women perceive their physical neighbourhood boundaries. The results of this manuscript demonstrate the contribution of the following four main amenities to shaping the perceived neighbourhood boundaries and livability: lively social and community-based spaces, inviting green spaces, shopping streets and shopping malls, and ethnic markets. According to these results, I proposed a guiding framework in the concluding chapter, including ten dimensions, for the design and development of more livable neighbourhoods in multicultural cities.

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