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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Planning for the housing impacts of a hallmark event : a case study of EXPO 86 Olds, Kristopher Nelson


This study proposes a strategy which will assist governments, the sponsors of hallmark events, and community groups to identify and plan for the negative housing impacts of such events. Hallmark events are major one-time or recurring events of limited duration, developed primarily to enhance the awareness, appeal and profitability of a tourist destination in the short and/or long term. World's Fairs and Olympic Games are two examples of hallmark events. The 1986 World's Fair (Expo 86) in Vancouver provided an opportunity to document the impacts of this hallmark event on the residents of a community which borders the fair site and on the planning practices of the local government. Five research questions are addressed: 1) How has the nature of World's Fairs changed since their emergence in the late 19th century? 2) To what extent have World's Fairs been used as an inner city redevelopment tool; what have their housing impacts been; and, how have these impacts been planned for? 3) What was the nature of the housing impacts of Expo 86 on the residents of the Downtown Eastside community in Vancouver? 4) What was the City of Vancouver's planning process with respect to the potential and then actual housing impacts of Expo 86 on the residents of the Downtown Eastside? 5) What were the reasons for the success and/or failure of the City of Vancouver's planning process? These research questions are explored by: undertaking a literature review; corresponding with academics, planners and World's Fair staff in cities where fairs have or will be held; interviewing representatives of Expo 86, the City of Vancouver and the impacted community; analyzing City files on the issue; and, personal observation. The results suggest that the nature of World's Fairs has changed considerably since their emergence. In the last two decades, their use as an inner city redevelopment tool, in combination with the pressures created by millions of fair visitors, has created four different types of housing impacts: on-site impact; post-announcement speculative impact; pre-Expo tourist demand impact; and, post-Expo impact. In Vancouver, for example, between 1,600 and 2,600 lodging house units were demolished or converted between 1978 and 1986 in a community bordering the fair site (Expo 86 was announced in 1980). In addition, between January and June, 1986, 500 to 850 residents were evicted from lodging houses (Expo 86 opened on May 2, 1986). The evaluation of the City of Vancouver's planning process for the Expo 86 housing impacts suggests that the City was adequately prepared. However, it was the politics of planning -- the issues of political jurisdiction, ideology and ideological differences -- which resulted in the City's failure to stop the negative housing impacts. This study concludes by recommending that a systematic planning process be implemented for addressing the housing impacts of hallmark events. Planners should adapt their role in the process to fit the planning environment. Lastly, governments, sponsors of hallmark events, and community groups should implement a wide range of options to prevent negative housing impacts from occurring. Examples of such options and some "points to consider" are presented in Chapter Five of this study.

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