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Land use, planning, and private property: Waste and improvement in early 20th century Winnipeg and Vancouver, Canada

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Land use control, in the context of the liberal democratic state, signifies a suite of legal and technical tools for regulating social and material elements of the city. Over the past 120 years in Canada, such controls have become omnipresent within urban planning practice across jurisdictions. Ideas of land use have become ubiquitous within contemporary planning discourse and can appear as apolitical in the classification of urban space, often going unnoticed by the general public and uncontested within planning itself. Yet land use is political, and geographers, legal scholars, and critical planners have recently paid renewed attention to the power-laden features of land use control, particularly as they relate to the regulation of people and private property. In this article-based dissertation, I build and expand on this recent work and look to early 20th century planning in Canada (ca. 1910-1945), in the cities of Winnipeg and Vancouver, to look at then-emerging relationships between land use planning, people, and private property. I use archival methods and discourse analysis to outline case studies of local land use planning relative to broader planning discourses at the national scale. Specifically, I ask 1) how land use has been shaped in relation to urban planning and property in key early moments of Canadian planning history 2) how discourses of waste and improvement have been used to spatialize particular land use arrangements, and 3) how land use controls aimed at eliminating waste and facilitating improvement can subject people and things to exclusion/marginalization. In doing so, I expose land use planning as a political tool for orienting people and private property toward normative ways of being, while also classifying certain forms of land and life as deviant, aberrant, and wasteful – meant to fall away under schemes of improvement. I conclude by offering possible directions for future scholarship and show how a deeper understanding of land use planning history and procedure can help transform and dismantle entrenched liberal formulations of land use.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Blomley, Nicholas
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