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Eco-behavioural factors as indices of residential stability Duguid, Allan Garson

Abstract

Historically, the most common analysis of the way in which a city evolved was in terms of market forces. According to this school of thought, propounded by the human ecologists, a residential area matured until it reached a point when it could be profitably redeveloped at a higher intensity of use. This type of explanation reflects the rise in land costs associated with rapid urban growth. More pertinently, it also reflects the power vested in politicians and business interests to control the destiny of parts of the city. Recently, however, we have witnessed an increasing concern amongst individuals and citizen interest groups over the way in which urban areas are being manipulated for political or corporate gain, at the expense of citizens' satisfaction. This concern has been expressed in terms of an increasing consciousness, or environmental and political awareness. This study examined West Kitsilano, one of Vancouver's older residential districts, in the light of the general hypothesis: That the degree of stability of a residential environ cannot be accounted for solely in terms of market forces. Part of the explanation must now be sought in terms of individual eco-behavioral factors. The hypothesis was validated by the research undertaken. This indicated that further insight on the contemporary forces affecting the evolution of urban areas can be gained by examining the understanding residents have of their environ and the behavior patterns they display. It revealed that despite the presence of market forces committed to the redevelopment of the area, inhabitants can play a conscious role in the preservation of their residential environ in a form which satisfies their day to day requirements. If continued intervention in the way in which the city evolves is to be relevant, it will depend on a more informed planning process. It must take account of the sentiments and expectations of individuals throughout the urban area, in addition to considering the continued deployment of people and activities in terms of market induced factors. This requires considerable introspection on behalf of those involved in environmental management. It demands that citizens be regarded as directors of the urban fabric rather than as mere actors to be directed. However, the ability to ask fundamentally social and organizational questions will be wasted unless planners can demonstrate equal flexibility in their search for policies and avenues of intervention. This will inevitably lead them outside traditional areas of competence, or outside traditional institutional frameworks. Most significantly, it will emphasize that those involved in environmental management must become part of, rather than alleged experts for, social change.

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