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"Small Chandigarh" : reproduction of cultural space and identity in Surrey, BC : implications for multicultural planning Heer, Preet

Abstract

A key defining characteristic of Canadian Cities today is the increasing ethnic diversity created by changing immigration patterns over the past twenty years. In order to accommodate and ease the transition towards diversity, policy makers have created frameworks that respond to this multicultural context. Despite policy formation, however, changes in the ethnic composition of communities often manifest into tensions and conflict relating to changes in the physical landscape. Using a case study approach, this research explores the dynamics of diversity exemplified in the mega house issue in Surrey, BC from 1990 to 1998. A review of secondary sources such as planning documents, public hearing minutes, bylaw amendments and newspaper articles provided an initial framework for the mega house issue. As well, in-depth interviews with planners, developers and residents were conducted in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the multiple perspectives. During the investigation, key questions for consideration were, how is urban planning as a public institution currently responding to the needs of a multicultural society? What kinds of approaches are utilized to encourage or discourage community participation? How are issues defined and by whom? The analysis of the mega house issue underscores that while the ethnoracial composition of the population is changing, specific mechanisms and methods of planning are not available to address emerging issues of a diverse population. In order to work toward solutions, the planning profession needs to evaluate its current practices and approaches. Specifically when planning for diversity, participation and access to process and knowledge need to be important considerations. In particular, approaches need to promote wide representation and acknowledge barriers in order to give voice to the full scope of perspectives in a diverse community. Furthermore, planners need to be cognisant of the way they are delivering knowledge because this delivery in fact shapes perceptions and actions. Finally, planning for social issues and fostering community cohesion today is an integral part of the process in working toward building healthy sustainable communities for tomorrow.

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