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Who Really Governs Vancouver? Community Power and Regime Theory Revisited.

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
The central research question herein is “how do coalitions of government and non-government actors get created and influence the decision-making processes of municipal government in Vancouver, British Columbia?” The goal of this effort is to better understand “who really governs?” (Dahl, 1961) at the municipal level of government in the city during two ‘adjacent’ eras – the development of the post-Expo ’86 lands in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, and the creation and implementation of the Vancouver Agreement (VA), including the development of Vancouver as North America’s first supervised/safe injection site/harm reduction model, in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. This dissertation considers not only the structures, actors and ideas of municipal governments but also the creation, influence and power of the various coalitions, the urban regimes, as defined by Stone (1989), that form around local decision-making. It is clear from this examination that coalitions of government and non-government actors, urban regimes, were created and influenced the decision-making processes involved in the development of former Expo ’86 lands and the creation and implementation of the Vancouver Agreement. In addition, there were continuities and discontinuities identified, linked to the type of policy being considered by the Vancouver municipal government. In sum, this analysis found that the nature of the decision-making processes, and by extension the urban regimes that were created, were issue-dependent. Urban regimes involved in what Bish and Clemens (2008) have described as “hard” (or “engineering”) issues, such as land development, were substantially different in nature to those involved in “soft” (or human policy”) issues, such as the provision of addiction services - the substance of policy issues mattered more than institutions.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Smith, Patrick
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