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Rehabilitation potential in a changing urban residential area (East Kitsilano, Vancouver). Tanabe, Patricia Anne

Abstract

As yet, neighbourhood rehabilitation remains an untried method of urban renewal in Vancouver in spite of its obvious economic advantages in arresting deterioration and thereby avoiding costly programmes of total clearance and redevelopment. Rehabilitation has, moreover, important social benefits: it requires the participation of residents and provides an opportunity to improve physical conditions while preserving the structure of social relations and institutions necessary for a dynamic community. The present study explores the potential for rehabilitation of an area of East Kitsilano designated by the City of Vancouver Redevelopment Study (1956) as suitable for rehabilitation. The examination is made in relation to residents' interests and institutional resources present in the area and is intended as a sequel to an earlier study of citizen participation in neighbourhood rehabilitation carried out as a Master of Social Work thesis in 1962 in the Lower Mount Pleasant area of Vancouver. For the present study a preliminary survey was made of the physical characteristics of the area followed by interviews with representatives of selected social organizations and with a small sample of residents. Supporting data on households and population characteristics were derived from the D.B.S. censuses and the City Voters List. There emerges from the survey a picture of a neighbourhood with enough social and physical assets to make a programme of rehabilitation both feasible and exigent. East Kitsilano differs from Lower Mount Pleasant in possessing a larger number of indigenous voluntary organizations capable, if the conditions are right, of providing the leadership and support for a planned programme of rehabilitation. But there are, at present, substantial obstacles to the initiation of such a programme. These include, (a) indifference on the part of residents to their surroundings and to the quality of neighbourhood amenities (b) a tenuous identification with the neighbourhood associated, it would appear, with a relatively high ratio of tenant occupancy (c) inexperience generally of the residents in the kind of co-operative activity necessary to implement a rehabilitation programme. The present study, like the earlier one of Lower Mount Pleasant, confirms the importance of establishing appropriate administrative structure and procedures at the official level for a city-wide programme of neighbourhood rehabilitation. This programme, moreover, should be conceived and executed as an integral part of the City's urban renewal planning. There is little liklihood of a local organization interested in rehabilitation arising spontaneously and the provision of a trained community organization worker appears essential to mobilize interest, initiate action and maintain liaison between residents and local government. It is also desirable that the boundaries of any area proposed for rehabilitation be defined so as to correspond as nearly as possible with existing natural social areas.

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