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Ladner, British Columbia : a case study in planning for the revitalization of the commercial district in an established, hitherto rural community subjected to expanding metropolitan growth Ala, Lawrence Gordon

Abstract

In recent years, many hitherto rural communities have come under the influence of metropolitan urban expansion. The most detrimentally affected part of the rural community has been the commercial district. Many of these older, rural-established, metropolitan-ecompassed, commercial districts, due to their inability to adequately adapt themselves to serve the changing demands being made of them — with many of these same demands being supplied by new competition in the form of planned shopping centres and the now more easily accessible metropolitan central business districts — in some cases have become, or are likely to become, commercial "slums". In many instances it is desirable to retain these strategically located commercial districts in a stable and functional condition, for they not only provide a source of tax revenue, personal wage income, and investment income, but also provide the only convenient customer service for a great variety of necessities. To date virtually no attention has been directed toward the improvement of these formerly rural commercial districts in order that they may adequately perform necessary functions. Unless some definite steps are taken to achieve stability, these districts will become blighted scars on the metropolitan landscape and will eventually envelop in decay an increasingly larger area. This study proposes one method to achieve this stability and rejuvenation. APPROACH - In the last decade some attention has been directed toward the stabilization of older outlying commercial districts within cities. Even more recently attention has been directed toward the improvement of older commercial areas within, or near, central business districts, and, at times, the whole central business district. In general a dual approach has been used to achieve the desired stability and revitalization. First the inherent assets of that particular commercial district are capitalized on; second, the principles and experience of the planned modern shopping centre are utilized. This latter approach has been justified on the grounds that planned shopping centres have been economically very successful, and that the success of the planned shopping centres has been one of the causes for the actual, or relative, decline of these commercial districts. HYPOTHESIS It has been hypothesized in this study that, since the problems confronting the older rural-established metropolitan encompassed declining commercial districts are basically similar in manifestation, cause and effect to the problems facing the older urban-established outlying commercial districts within cities, the solutions proposed for outlying commercial districts are applicable to rural established commercial districts. In order to demonstrate this hypothesis, the declining, or imminently declining, commercial district of Ladner, a small hitherto-rural metropolitan-encompassed community, was analyzed and replanned according to the proposed revitalization principles. FINDINGS Commercial district revitalization is achieved through a comprehensive, dynamic, and properly staged programme composed of three major elements; the organization, the research, and the plan. The organization is responsible for the initiation and administration of the programme, and for the creation and implementation of the plan. The research deals with the functional, planning, and architectural analysis of the district. The physical plan strives for economic stability, pleasantness, convenience, safety, and individuality. The plan achieves these characteristics through the use of the following principles: a conveniently accessible, definite, compact commercial nucleus composed of mutually compatible and mutually beneficial activity-nuclei, which are isolated and insulated from the non-compatible nuclei; a ring road with an internal collar of off-street parking accommodation related to the activity nuclei; pedestrian-vehicular movement separation where it is desirable for economic, aesthetic, or safety reasons, through the creation of plazas, malls, and arcades; strong physical, functional, and visual unity; and a pleasant, varied, colourful, and exciting district, with some attractive unique quality.

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