UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Growth, change, and land use patterning in strip commercial districts : a Vancouver case study Hudema, Blake Boyd


The purpose of this thesis is to gain an improved understanding of the structure, dynamics and planning of land-use in off-center commercial strip districts. In the pursuit of these objectives, this thesis combines a literature review with a case study of commercial land uses on Central Broadway Avenue in Vancouver. The literature review is divided into two segments. The opening section addresses issues of general land-use, commercial land-use, and then focuses on strip commercial districts in an inner city context. After establishing the structural basis for the thesis, the remaining literature addresses the topics of growth, change and the patterning of land-use. The discussion looks at invasion and succession as well • as internal reorganization of land-uses as temporal aspects of land-use. In terms of land-use patterning, issues of accessibility, linkages, and external economies are explored. It is concluded from the literature, that historical processes of growth and change as well as functional associations as defined by linkages and external economies are determinants of land-use patterns within commmercial strip districts. The case study applies some of the principles addressed in the literature. Specifically, three statistical applications, the Markov transition probability matrix, the nearest-neighbour analysis, and the cluster analysis are used to demonstrate the growth, change and spatial proximities/affinities of land-uses. The study area consists of eighteen commercial blocks of Central Broadway Avenue in the inner city of Vancouver. The data base used in the analysis was comprised of the locations and types of uses for all establishments fronting on Broadway in five-year intervals from 1951 to 1981. A number of conclusions become evident from the literature review and case study. First, it was observed that planning and in particular, land-use control has played a limited role in commercial land-use districts. It is observed that planners have been hesitant to intervene in what has traditionally been a market aspect of the urban economy. Second, Broadway has evolved from a low-order, convenience-natured commercial strip to a diverse and highly specialized commercial complex of retail, service and office uses. Third, as observed from the Markov matrix, the analysis was able to demonstrate stabilities of locations. During the first decade, 1951-1961, establishments generally remained at one location longer than was the case over the decade 1971-1981. Fourth, various like uses, as defined by the classification scheme, cluster among themselves, while other uses exhibit patterns of regularity and random distribution. Fifth, the relationship between different uses, indicates that certain uses are located in proximity to other uses with more regularity than could be explained by random probability. In the case study, the location of retail and service uses in and around office uses suggests a spin-off effect by office development onto the other two commmercial uses. Finally, it is concluded that Central Broadway, within the bounds of the study area is composed of five distinct segments, ranging from a low density, retail section to a multi-storey office node. It is also recognized that the "blanket" land use control in place may be inappropriate in light of these delineations of the study area. The implications to planning are addressed from both an academic and a practical standpoint. From an academic viewpoint, commercial land-use should be viewed as an aggregate of structures and activities, continually changing, but still arranged into patterns of land-use. On the practical side, land-use regulations should reflect contemporary trends and patterns of land-use. Planners should recognize the market forces at work in commercial districts and work with these in guiding and controlling commercial land-use and development.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.