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Resource towns in British Columbia : a study of the physical environment of Gold River and Golden Sammarco, Sebastiano Riccardo

Abstract

The Problem Over the last few decades British Columbia has experienced an unprecedented wave of economic growth which has resulted in the creation of new towns such as Gold River, Houston, Hudson's Hope, Mackenzie, in the planned expansion of Port Hardy and Port McNeil, and in the rearrangement of other communities. The forest industry, by use of a sustained yield management system, has set examples of a stable town-building activity. It is the intention of this thesis to investigate the physical environment of two British Columbia forest-based towns, and in particular the visual, three-dimensional design resulting from resource development. The subject matter appears to be of Interest, at this moment in time, because of an acquired consciousness, by many, that the building of a new town is more than a practical method for providing a labour pool to the parent industry, indeed a technique for channeling and directing urban growth in a regional context. Method of Approach The study attempts to examine the resources of forest-based towns. The method adopted consists of drawing parallels between Gold River and Golden, selected as sample communities. These are considered representative of the provincial trend: creation of new towns, and reorganization of old towns. The study is based on information gathered through direct contact with the inhabitants. A questionnaire worked out by the U.B.C. Department of Community and Regional Planning for a student project during the year 1968 was used, and the factual information was gathered as background material for a discussion on the town-forms as observed. Four areas articulate the study: a) historical, b) factual, c) structural, and d) visual analysis. Town forms are discussed in relation to four primary elements which derive from a combination of a personal bias and of Kevin Lynch’s way of looking at cities. These elements are: Nodes, Routes, Districts and Prime Volumes. They are first separately compiled and then brought together in comparison. An appraisal involving R. Anaheim's category of order, Homogeneity, Coordination, Hierarchy and Accident, summarizes the observations. The method used relies on subjective perception and description of what can be called a "collective image" of resource towns. The Findings The historical analysis shows that both government and private enterprise have determined the present state of resource development and the physical form of the towns. The resource community shows clear signs of evolution, especially significant in the development of a planning attitude. The stages of this evolution are to be seen in the gradual changes of the resource town from tent-camp to the present planned instant-town. The analysis shows that the basic needs of community life, work, housing, and social facilities have not only been catered for, but are yet evolving. The main body of the thesis, consisting of the structural and visual analysis of the town, looks at the three-dimensional reality of the environments, and from this it is shown that the evolved towns possess many virtues which if understood could provide guidance in the building of new towns. The findings suggest that future implementations should consider the following as necessary premises to a more fulfilling town life: 1. The success of a new town must be closely associated with the harmonious interrelation between the natural and the man-made forms, between the land and the buildings. 2. Since growth of towns can only be predicted over relatively short time spans, the practice of clearing land should be restricted to phases of development. 3. The removal of natural features such as trees and land forms should be controlled by the citizens. 4. Zoning regulations should be released with the objective of creating greater mixtures of uses, as incentive to social needs. 5. The "gridiron," as an open geometric pattern, can provide for qualitative growth. The orthogonal scheme should be more closely investigated before being discarded as old and obsolete town design. Older towns, which mirror the needs and are an aesthetic expression of the community, provide an opportunity for developing from "within" a concept for new towns. The plea coming from many sources and urging experimentation and development of a Canadian model must focus its validity on the need for identity. Guidelines which take into consideration local heritage can be Instrumental in the creation of a Canadian new town concept.

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