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The Winnipeg core area initiative : a case study in urban revitalisation Stewart, Dana Gayle

Abstract

Inner-city revitalisation poses perhaps the most complex challenge faced by urban planners today. This dissertation explores the role of planning in urban restructuring by providing a critical empirical investigation into a major Canadian tripartite planning intervention that spans a decade -- The Winnipeg Core Area Initiative (1981 to 1991). The purpose of the dissertation is to study the Winnipeg Core Area Initiative (CM) as a prototypical model for urban regeneration and public-policy intervention, to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the CAI, and to evaluate the impact that this urban intervention had over a period of ten years. Backed by a comparative analysis of urban regeneration efforts in Great Britain and the United States, it explores the concept of "distress" in inner-city areas and attempts to answer the questions: Distress -- who can relieve it and how? The case-study method is used for an evaluation of the CAI that includes content analysis of published materials produced about, and for, the Initiative and public-attitude surveys and newspaper reports over the period 1981 to 1991. The results of interviews with twenty-five "key or core players" provide qualitative data that enriches the dissertation by presenting a picture of the CAI that is missing from evaluation reports commissioned by the tripartite partners or from published commentaries on the Initiative. This case study reveals an urban intervention strategy with objectives that were conceptually broad and comprehensive, perhaps too much so for the level of financial and organisational resources available and the level of public expectations that was raised. While the model was an excellent vehicle to harmonise scarce public resources and leverage private investment, this study reveals a disjunction between policy intent and policy implementation in attempting to balance economic development with disparity relief efforts. This dissertation concludes that there are components of the CAI model that provide valuable instruction for urban restructuring but it is unlikely that the model as originally designed, could, or should, be replicated. The importance of this study is to provide a broad examination of the theoretical framework behind the Winnipeg CAI as an instrument for urban public policy that will assist future planning-and-policy formation attempts in urban revitalisation and strengthen the public and private ability to generate comprehensive, strategic and cohesive urban policy.

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