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’A new breed of group’ : community activism in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood, 1968-1972 Bruce, Michael

Abstract

Between 1968 and 1972 the residents of Vancouver's inner-city neighbourhood of Strathcona were engaged in a movement to stop the clearance and redevelopment of their neighbourhood. While mobilized around this effort to protect their homes, this movement had broader goals focused on reforming the democratic structures that had left them in such a marginal position. Residents succeeded on both accounts, halting the City of Vancouver's plan to replace their houses with high-density apartment blocks while also reforming political attitudes towards inner city communities and enhancing civic engagement. This was a genuinely grassroots movement of residents who had no experience challenging structures of authority or engaging in political activism. While this case study does fit within a wider context of urban community activism in the late 1960s and 1970s, Strathcona stands as a unique case as witnessed in the neighbourhood's ethnic, class, and generational diversity, as well as by the lack of experience in activism by those who participated in the fight to save the community. This paper is an analysis of the community structure, tactics, and strategies, as led by residents and organizers with the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association, or SPOT A.

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