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Neighbourhood analysis in Vancouver : four exploratory studies for community organization purposes Allardice, Ethel Margaret

Abstract

Community organization as a basic social work method has taken on increasing emphasis during the past decade. There is a growing awareness of the contribution this method has to make in a variety of settings in social welfare and allied fields. This year, the School of Social Work, University of British Columbia, initiated courses and field work placements in this specialization for students in their second year of professional training. Partly because of the absence of this type of training in the past, there has been a dearth of studies of Vancouver neighbourhoods from a community organization point of view. Opportunity was provided through student placements to examine four disparate, dynamic and changing communities. The scarcity of previous studies denied access to any defined rationale. The examinations were based upon the tentative assumption that there should be a significant involvement of both physical and social planning at all stages of neighbourhood development. For the present studies, a variety of methods for obtaining information was employed. Primary among these were:- interviewing of key individuals in the communities and of representatives of agencies, institutions and associations knowledgable about the communities; an examination of pertinent agency records; attendance at a variety of meetings of local import; obtaining demographic statistical information. The findings of the West End study reveal it to be an area undergoing rapid change. The failure to establish decisive physical planning for the area creates uncertainty among local leaders otherwise well equipped to engage in social planning. A new community is thus evolving in haphazard response to this fact. Problems related to the behaviour of young people have given Fraserview, a veterans' housing area, a degree of notoriety which is not altogether deserved. Although the present density of teenagers was predictable seven years ago, the social planning process, at the agency as well as at the Community Chest and Councils level, was unable to marshall community resources to meet adequately the specific needs of this area. The mobilization of the professionals and their subsequent incorporation as the Fraserview Youth Services Society is designed to provide the needed local planning body. Skeena Terrace Public Housing is a major low-rental housing project located in an officially undefined community. Tenants have come from many parts of the city, but none from the area adjacent to the housing project. The findings indicate a degree of neighbourhood feeling developing on the project but little integration with the community of Sunrise Park. Strathcona, a severely blighted area, is presently undergoing planned physical redevelopment on a comprehensive scale. Results of this study which has been conducted in the very early stages of the changing environmental conditions indicate a need for extensive preplanning on the part of the governments, private agencies, and citizenry. Co-Ordination of all concerned is required so that satisfactory social arrangements for this community can be effected and thus ease the problems of relocation and redevelopment. These studies are of an exploratory nature - a deliberate effort to look at the communities without initial preconceptions. Although a few neighbourhood studies in Vancouver have been undertaken by students from this School, the value of this thesis may well stem from its community organization focus which could complement and supplement those with a case work and group work emphasis. These pilot projects may give rise to further analyses of Vancouver neighbourhoods and thus contribute to more comprehensive understanding of changing neighbourhoods within the city.

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