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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Creative services in Vancouver : a case study of Yaletown and Victory Square Brail, Shauna Gillian


The purpose of this thesis is to examine the role of creative service firms in the functioning of the economic, social and physical fabric of Vancouver’s urban core and specifically in the spatially distinctive design areas of Yaletown and Victory Square. The creative service sector is comprised of businesses that provide design services to both the public and private sectors. Creative services are relatively understudied. This thesis thus provides fresh insight regarding the creative service sector as a subsector of producer services (the fastest growing sector of employment in urban areas) and specifically discusses their role within the City of Vancouver. To this end, a literature review of related urban planning and geography theory is combined with a review of Vancouver’s recent development as a centre catering to advanced services, and an empirical study of creative services in downtown Vancouver. The issues addressed include urban economic restructuring, the role of producer services in urban economies, the role of creative services as a type of producer service, the land use and location patterns illustrative of creative services, and the importance of land use planning that successfully integrates a diversity of urban functions, including creative services, within the urban core. The potential impacts of major downtown land redevelopment on design neighbourhoods in Vancouver is also discussed. Research methodology included mapwork showing the locations of creative service firms within Vancouver’s central area and in-depth interviewing and detailed analysis of twenty six Architectural, Graphic and Interior Design firms in the neighbourhoods of Yaletown and Victory Square. Yaletown as an established design district and Victory Square as an emerging design district, provided the basis for a comparative neighbourhood level study. The findings support the hypothesis that creative services are integral to the City of Vancouver in the sense that they help support the downtown corporate complex. In addition, they are instrumental in the upgrading of dilapidated buildings and neighbourhoods. Firms are characterized by their tendency to agglomerate in inner city neighbourhoods, relative youth, and small size. Linkages with both corporate and creative services suppliers are highly localized in the downtown, while client locations tend to be more dispersed. Understanding the role of creative services as a subsector of producer services, as a support service to business services in downtown Vancouver, and as generators of urban economic growth; in addition to the importance of inner city neighbourhoods as locations for creative service firms, are important factors to consider during the current phase of land use restructuring in downtown Vancouver.

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