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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Recreation and conservation : a programme to preserve open spaces in the expanding metropolitan area Jenkinson, Thomas

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is twofold; first, to focus attention on the problems presently confronting metropolitan area open space and secondly, to develop a programme of implementation that can be utilized within the metropolitan area's framework of administration. Over the last several decades a wealth of material has been published on parks, both from the conservation and preservation aspect; recently there has been a slight shift of emphasis towards a study of outdoor recreation in relation to user's demands and overuse. But, in most instances the focus has been on either a broader level, such as provincial, state, or federal parks, or a narrower level, as in the case of city or neighbourhood recreation facilities. Yet, the most important urban area in North America, the metropolis, is not receiving proper attention and treatment. The second consideration, probably the most significant, is that nothing on a comprehensive basis is being accomplished to specifically alleviate the situation in the metropolitan area. To be sure, programmes have been suggested, and each separate governmental authority is aware of certain of these problems. Some people have suggested zoning, the use of taxation and easements to mention but a few examples, to solve the open space dilemma. However, these devices are not sufficient if any progress is to be made against the indiscriminate affects of the market. The solution suggested in this study is the use of a financial implementation technique administered by a comprehensive metropolitan government body. Thus, a start could be made towards improving the relationship of parks and open space to the growing urban population. The approach of the study is basically one of considering all the ramifications involved in the discussion of the metropolitan community and the utilization of parks and open space. The first step is to bring to the reader's attention the open space problems that are currently being created because of the population expansion outwards into the suburbs and beyond and the unchecked application of "highest and best use" theory to all types of land. Sprawl, scatteration and disorganized land speculation have caused a real crisis in available and potential outdoor recreation sites. The second step is a general appraisal of the affects of our changing living pattern on the demands and uses of open space. Here, the assumption is that open space has been accepted as being for the public good. The increased amount of leisure, higher income and greater mobility have all played a vital role in influencing outdoor recreation characteristics. As a further consideration, one factor that has largely been overlooked until recently is the need for natural spaces to ease mankind's emotional and psychological experiences. Next an examination is made of ways and means now available for a public agency to conserve open spaces; these could be divided into three major elements, taxing powers, police powers and those of eminent domain. In this evaluation particular attention is paid to agricultural zoning, conservation easments, and metropolitan government. Based on this survey, it is concluded that none of these methods are sufficiently comprehensive enough nor adequate financially to alleviate the growing deficiencies of open space in the metropolitan community. The proposed solution consists of three major elements; first, the need for some form of metropolitan government; secondly, the financial programme utilizing the sharing of gasoline tax revenue as a means of providing an open space development fund; and thirdly, a metropolitan development programme establishing open space goals and objectives within the framework of a metropolitan master plan. To bring out the highlights of such a proposal a case study of the Vancouver Metropolitan Area is utilized. The value of this study may be summed up in adding further knowledge to the study and examination of metropolitan problems, especially relative to outdoor recreation and open space. In essence it is an extended examination of the possible devices which can be applied to achieve positive planned results; at this level, the thesis has attempted to furnish another possible means of implementing a comprehensive metropolitan open space development programme. If some stimulation is engendered amongst those people concerned with solving our urban problems, then this thesis may have had some value. Today, the urban dweller is faced with a perplexing challenge, if he is to achieve a fuller, more satisfying life. Public effort must be enlivened to counteract the disturbing land forces that are at work. Allowing these pressures to continue will not only disturb and destroy the natural countryside but will totally unravel any sense of urban and rural balance. We will be left with a monotonous patchwork pattern of tract houses, cement freeways, asphalt parking areas and geometrically designed buildings instead of selected areas of woodlands, streams, and meadows.

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