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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Encroachments into selected municipal and regional park lands in Canada Chambers, Bruce

Abstract

As urban areas increase in population, pressures are exerted upon vacant or undeveloped lands for housing, industry, public buildings, highway rights-of-way, and a host of other uses including parks. At the same time, pressures are placed upon existing parks to accomodate some of the other needs of expanding urban areas. The loss of lands that have been developed for recreation results in either the loss of a necessary activity or the reduction of the quality of the experience enjoyed by park users. Studies in the U.S.A. indicate that alienation of park lands by non-recreative uses is a serious problem. While many urban areas in Canada have experienced significant population increases and the resultant pressures on urban land during the last ten years, there has been no examination, on a provincial or national basis, of the effects of such trends on major parks (over 20 acres). Are park lands in this size category being alienated to provide land for non-recreative purposes? This thesis attempts to provide an answer to this and related questions. The findings of this study are based on 141 questionnaire returns from a survey of 234 Canadian municipalities with populations over 10,000. Two of 183 municipalities between 10,000 and 50,000 persons experienced a total of 5 alienations from 1960-1970. Seventeen of 51 municipalities over 50,000 persons experienced a total of 34 alienations during the same period. The land alienated was 13 per cent of the total park area affected; on the average, 15.5 acres of land were alienated per encroachment. Highways and roads, schools, and housing were the main uses alienating park lands. In most cases objections to the alienation by the parks board were overruled by the municipal council on the grounds that the encroaching use was of greater importance or that the land was cheaper. It is concluded that alienation of park lands in Canadian municipalities is a significant problem that to date has been unrecognized and un-publicized. Moreover, the study suggests that pressure on park lands will continue to mount in the foreseeable future. With the exception of parks given to a municipality in trust there is little to indicate that municipal legislation is oriented to protecting the major parks. In fact, parks that have been dedicated by public referendum are not guaranteed perpetual protection in all provinces. Parks, as viewed by some municipal councils, seem to represent a valuable form«of land bank for future development needs. The increasing public awareness of the value of major parks in urban areas may change this outlook in the future.

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