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UBC Theses and Dissertations

From nuisance to amenity : exploring planning policy alternatives for live music venues in Vancouver Pickersgill, Mark


In Vancouver, increasing residential pressures on the city have resulted in the loss and endangerment of a number of live music venues. This thesis explores the role of planning policy in integrating and retaining live music venues within urban environments. This thesis asserts that live music venues are contested spaces. Venues and performance facilities come attached with their own stories, histories, devotees, cultural worth, social importance, and economic significance, thus comprising important pieces of cultural fabric. Live music venues also help to instill vitality, enjoyment, identity, and purpose to a place as they attract artists, consumers, tourists, entrepreneurs, and industry. It is in this sense that live music venues constitute an important amenity to city life. However, from other perspectives music venues can pose serious concerns regarding noise, crowds, alcohol, unruly behaviour, and disorder. Generally planning policy has not been able to adequately address live music venues. An exploration of how planning policy affects venues is carried out through an in-depth review of relevant literature pertaining to land use, emerging planning challenges, and amenity. Research reveals that there are 4 basic areas of planning policy that affect live music venues most directly: 1) Long range and strategic planning 2) Regulation 3) Cultural Planning 4) Financing and the securing of public amenities. Using these four areas of planning policy as an analytical framework, an examination of case example cities and a detailed SWOT analysis of the Vancouver context is carried out. Overall the research reveals that increasing residential development and a pervasive culture of complaint comprise two of the primary threats to live music venues in Vancouver. This thesis concludes that there is a need to increase the connections between land use and cultural planning policy in order to foster live music venues and to assert their legitimacy as a land use. A series of potential planning policy alternatives for Vancouver are suggested with discussion concluding with a broad look at the role of planners in supporting live music venues.

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