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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Waterfront development in the post-industrial city : a profile Mikicich, Stephen Nenad


The purpose of this thesis is to analyze the significance of waterfront redevelopment in the post-industrial city. The context for this analysis is the advent of post-industrial society - as evidenced by the economic, social and physical restructuring of cities. My objectives in undertaking this research are to gain a better understanding of planning issues in waterfront redevelopment; to examine the use of waterfront redevelopment as a policy tool for achieving community objectives; and to ascertain the broader implications of waterfront redevelopment in post-industrial society. My research is based on an extensive literature review, several interviews, and more in-depth study of selected waterfront projects. The significance of urban waterfront redevelopment is studied from three different perspectives: (i) the physical restructuring of cities in the post-industrial period; (ii) the experiences of various waterfront communities; and (iii) the case study of New Westminster, British Columbia. Waterfront redevelopment is significant in the post-industrial city as a public policy tool for achieving broader social and economic development objectives. Through the redevelopment of their waterfronts, communities have an opportunity to redress a range of social and economic issues. The social development potential is seldom realized, however, because redevelopment is primarily commercially-motivated. In theory, the urban waterfront has been reclaimed for all residents of the post-industrial city. The notion of public access and the creation of public amenities are fundamental principles of waterfront development. In practice, however, the benefits of a revitalized waterfront are not shared equally. As the waterfront profiles demonstrate, the nature of the waterfront land-use mix is generally biased towards high-end commercial development and luxury housing. The nature and form of new waterfront developments raises questions about elitism and equity in the post-industrial city. If some level of economic integration is not achieved, the waterfront will not have been reclaimed for all residents of the post-industrial city, but, rather - for the post-industrial urban elite.

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