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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Integration of physical planning and social planning : a case study of the Strathcona Urban Renewal Area, Vancouver. Lai, Hermia Kwok-Yee


This thesis examines the current separation between the disciplines of physical planning and social planning with particular reference to the City of Vancouver. Traditionally, physical planning was dominated by the doctrine of environmental determinism while social planning was limited to the supply of social services to the community. Neither of them, as separate functions, was able to effectively eliminate social and environmental problems in the urban complex. The maladjustment between the physical plans and social desires is particularly evident in urban renewal programs where replacement of poor physical structures by decent housing fails to, improve the social conditions. One of the methods advocated in North America for eliminating mismatches between physical planning and social needs is citizen participation in planning. The primary purpose of this thesis is to test the relevance of citizen involvement as a liaison between the two functions. The hypothesis for this research is: That citizen participation will assist in the integration of physical planning and social planning. Research findings reveal that "planning" is a comprehensive process of decision-making on the allocation and development of human and physical resources. Any physical plan which aims at improving the environment for the benefit of the public is essentially "social" in nature. Planning is therefore an apparatus for co-ordinating the individual physical-socio-economic functional programs of a community into an integrated overview of the total community. In fact, only one type of planning exists - a comprehensive approach aimed at achieving social goals. It is an inter-systems method which involves the deliberate introduction of socioeconomic and human-behavior consideration into the decision-making arena. Further research on citizen participation appears to support the hypothesis that citizen involvement will assist the desired integration of physical planning and social values. Various forms of citizen participation are identified, ranging from the passive non-participation role of education, information, consultation and placation to the aggressive effects of delegated power and citizen control. This gradation of participatory "strategies" is represented by a typology -The Model of a Ladder of Citizen Participation. Literature review also indicates that citizen participation is in fact a new kind of politics which involves the redistribution of power to the have-not citizens and the decentralization of government functions. The peak level of the citizen participation model is "citizen power", at which step, social desires of the community are significantly represented and accounted for in the planning process. The Case Study on the Strathcona Urban Renewal Porgram in Vancouver provides affirmative indications in favour of the hypothesis. Various "strategies" of citizen involvement, progressing from the low level of non-participation and tokenism in the early 1960s to the present stage of delegated power were practised by the Strathcona residents. The Case further substantiates the hypothesis that citizen participation is a promising alternative to the traditional planning approach under the existing political system. Although the urban renewal program in Strathcona is still under process to-date, there is some validation in presuming that participatory democracy will assist the integration of physical planning and social values. In retrospective, it appears that two challenges are posed to the planning professionals: to increase their social sensitivity and to broaden their innovation role. Future research into the methods of promoting meaningful citizen participation and to politicize the planning process are deemed necessary.

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