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Down to the nitty gritty : the politics and practice of implementing a vision in Kensington-Cedar Cottage, Vancouver Slack, Sarah

Abstract

Kensington-Cedar Cottage [KCC] is one of twenty three local areas as defined for planning purposes in the City of Vancouver. It is an area characterized by remarkable social diversity. KCC was one of two local areas to pilot the Community Visions program, a new approach to local area planning employed by the City of Vancouver. The KCC CityPlan Committee is comprised of a group of area residents who work with planners from the City of Vancouver in the implementation of the KCC Community Vision. This research asks in what sense the existence of the KCC CityPlan Committee strengthens community planning by facilitating inclusive citizen participation in decision making about the future of the area. This thesis finds that while the existence of the Committee facilitates active citizen participation in decision making about the future of the area for the relatively small group of people who are involved in its activities, the Committee is not representative of the residents of KCC. The KCC CityPlan Committee facilitates information sharing about planning activities with the wider community; however, the priorities and activities of the Committee and Community Vision Implementation Program do not reflect the needs of many KCC residents who struggle daily with securing adequate and affordable housing, food, childcare, and transportation. This research also finds that the existence of the KCC CityPlan Committee provides opportunities for neighbourhood groups in the area to coordinate at the local area level, build a broad base of support, and find resources for their initiatives. In the relationships created between neighbours, that result in collective action toward inclusion, we can find possibilities for neighbourhoods in which all residents feel they belong. The Community Visions Program does support the activities of some of these neighbourhood level groups, though mainly those concerned with environmental beautification. Exclusion and growing disparity will be a reality in Kensington-Cedar Cottage, unless there is a sustained and active commitment to the goal of inclusion by citizens, community groups, city planners, and politicians. Two actions that would result in more inclusive planning in Kensington- Cedar Cottage are support for initiatives at the neighbourhood level that foster inclusion, and the establishment of meaningful partnerships with community based organizations working with marginalized members of the community.

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