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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Changing the center of settlement in the Slocan Valley : an exploration of one opportunity towards a new configuration Anderson, April Anne

Abstract

This thesis looks at the settlement configuration in the rural landscape of the Slocan Valley and sees that it negatively impacts both the ecology and the "sense of place" there. It then explores how an unexpected and unique opportunity that suddenly materialized - a new public space - could be taken advantage of to change the settlement configuration in the future, to ameliorate these impacts. The new public space is substantial and powerfully positioned: fifty kilometers long and thirty meters wide, it is a continuous corridor running the entire length of the valley - the former Canadian Pacific Railway, deactivated as a rail line, and designated "rails to trails" status. This new public corridor - "The New Commons Corridor" - dedicated to non-motorized movement, could change the settlement configuration in the Slocan Valley from one focused on motorized vehicles, centered on the highway to one focused on human-measured movement, centered on the commons, by becoming the new center of settlement. The premise of this thesis is that such a configuration would be beneficial in two strongly connected ways. Firstly, that it would be a more ecologically sound settlement configuration, protecting the integrity of the Valley's myriad ecological systems. Secondly, that it would be a more socially sound settlement configuration, one where a much greater "sense of place" could begin to build. Far from being anachronistic, the ideas put forward by this thesis reflect current sensibilities that stand in stark contrast to the sterility and waning relevance of car-centered development. This thesis is a spatial exploration of the feasibility of the New Commons Corridor being a catalyst for such change in the rural landscape of the Slocan Valley. Landscape ecology methodology was used for this spatial exploration, which is carried out both "by hand", and using Geographic Information Science. The concepts central to this thesis, "Sense of Place", and "Human-Measured Means of Movement" are explored chiefly through the philosophy of Martin Heidegger as interpreted by Christian Norberg-Schultz and applied by Christopher Alexander, and "Ecology-Based Settlement Configuration", "Ecology-Based Planning" and "Landscape Ecology", are explored chiefly through the work of Richard T.T. Forman. Key Words: "Sense of Place"; "Ecology-Based Settlement Configuration"; "Corridor"; "Slocan Valley"; "Slocan Valley Heritage Trail".

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