UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The revitalization of the inner city : a case study of the Fairview Slopes neighbourhood, Vancouver, B.C. Fujii, George T.


Amidst the middle class "flight" to the suburbs, a select group of young, well-educated, and relatively affluent households have moved into formerly low and modest income, occasionally run-down, inner city neighbourhoods. Major changes in the economic and social, fabric of society together with an increasing interest in the central city as an exciting and stimulating place to live have led to the middle class revitalization of the inner city. Hastening the renewal process has been the favourable responses of the development industry and financial community and the policies of local government. Theoretical approaches which do not emphasize the conjunction of socio-cultural lifestyle values with political and economic factors are much too narrow in scope for a complete analysis of gentrification. A social movements approach based on an ideology of aestheticsm and style avoids this critique of theoretical narrowness. Incorporating such a methodological perspective, this thesis examines the complex interplay of social, economic, and political factors in the renewal of the Fair-view Slopes, an inner city neighbourhood in the city of Vancouver, B.C. Arising as a reaction to the growth-oriented ideology of the Non-Partisan Association at city hall, The Elector's Action Movement (T.E.A.M.), an urban reform party in power from 1972 to 1978, stressed the importance of aesthetics and style in the planning of the urban environment. It is within such a context of livability that the process of renewal has taken place on the Fairview Slopes during the 1970's. The transformation of the Fairview Slopes from a neighbourhood of old wooden frame houses into one of contemporary townhouse developments and immaculate renovations; together with its spectacular view and central location, have made it a very desirable place to live. In order to gain a better understanding of the nature and quality of this change, interviews were conducted with representatives of the Vancouver city planning department as well as various architects, developers, and real estate personnel. A neighbourhood survey of randomly selected Fairview Slopes residents provides the major source of data utilized in this study. Four general areas were explored in the neighbourhood questionnaire: (1) housing and neighbourhood characteristics of the Fairview Slopes (2) the desirability of Vancouver as a place to live (3) urban land use and development priorities and (4) the social and demographic characteristics of the survey respondents. Implicit in many of the responses are the concerns for aesthetics and style first advocated by T.E.A.M. during the early 1970's Livability, however, is not necessarily synonymous with equity and social justice. Although largely unintended, a number of less than desirable consequences have accompanied the middle class revitalization of the inner city. The Fairview Slopes case study illustrates how the demands of the market place, despite the best intentions of planners and politicians, can appropriate the aesthetic and social objectives of apparently humane urban land use policies.

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