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Can gentrification be stopped? : a case study of Grandview-Woodland, Vancouver Dobson, Cory Gregory

Abstract

With nearly four decades of academic focus on the issue of gentrification behind us, little progress seems to have been achieved in controlling the negative externalities of the process. While admittedly a complex configuration of costs and benefits, the continued march of gentrification throughout post-industrial cities has left the painful consequences of displacement not only unchecked, but often embraced and encouraged by governments and the private sector as the engine of urban renewal and regeneration, and a solution to decaying centres in search of livability. By prioritizing the beneficial aspects of gentrification, often only to the benefit of those able to afford the costly new landscapes, inner-city transformation has intensified the problematic realities of social conflict and housing affordability within our cities. With this seemingly unstoppable momentum of gentrification and its transformation of neighbourhoods into exclusive enclaves for the white-collar work force well underway, the question this thesis attempts to answer is: can gentrification be stopped? Historical examples have shown us that with sufficient public consensus around issues of non-market housing provision, gains in affordability can be achieved. However, in today's political context it seems ideologically unlikely that the level of public support required for such successes will be repeated. Instead, this research explores the potential for possible policy intervention by identifying and seeking to understand where the advance of gentrification in Vancouver has been surprisingly delayed, or diverted, and why? With Grandview-Woodland in East Vancouver as a case study the thesis uncovers the bases for alternative policy options for communities confronting neighbourhood change as a result of gentrification.

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