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Chinese immigrants and sustainable community development from a cultural perspective Pan, Ting

Abstract

Greater Vancouver has experienced a dramatic influx of international immigration in the past three decades. This demographic change has two major implications for sustainable development in this region. First, the increase of population is placing great pressure on the environment and maintaining the current quality of life. Second, while it is critical to include the rapidly-growing immigrant population in the Greater Vancouver region's sustainability initiatives, the increasing ethnic diversity of this region raises issues of communication and cross-cultural understanding. This exploratory study examines Chinese immigrants housing preferences and explores their implications for sustainable community development in Greater Vancouver. This study focuses on Chinese immigrants because they have an increasing influence on the region's physical, cultural and political landscape. Through 30 in-depth interviews with Chinese immigrants of qualitatively different backgrounds, this study examined preferences for home location, attributes of dwelling, and its proximal space. The study employed grounded theory approach assisted with picture comparison and trade-off game techniques. Results indicate that Chinese immigrants' housing aspirations are strongly influenced by a desire to assimilate into mainstream culture in North America. Further, considerations of traditional Chinese v housing form and style are not a priority among the study group. However, an array of social and economic constraints and priorities inform their housing choices. Amenities that are important to Chinese immigrants are identified for various aspects of a community. A number of recommendations are drawn from these priorities and preferences, which may be applied by planners, policy makers, designers and developers of sustainable communities for Chinese immigrant populations. Additional observations on language barriers, civic involvement, and community outreach programs suggest challenges and opportunities to promote sustainable living among Chinese immigrants.

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