Vancouver, Canada and other North American cities are home to historic neighbourhood retail stores which local residents cherish. Despite their value to communities, many are not recognized as official heritage sites. This thesis uses the case study of Wong's Market, a neighbourhood retail store and apartment at 5993 Main Street in Vancouver to illustrate how these often-nondescript places have heritage value despite lacking government recognition. Using the methods of media analysis, archival research, document analysis, and expert interviews, this thesis explores the intangible heritage values associated with places, how heritage value is assessed according to the City of Vancouver's current processes, and how inconsistencies between current policies and processes reveals challenges in the evaluation of intangible heritage. While existing literature on heritage evaluation models highlights the complexity of assessing the intangible heritage associated with places, I employ theories of place attachment to demonstrate that the tangible and intangible are interconnected. This interconnectivity offers a new rationale for conservation of tangible heritage places. My findings reveal a disconnect between the policy and practice of heritage evaluations in Vancouver. Because it is more predictable to evaluate tangible heritage than intangible heritage, tangible evaluations still offer a worthwhile avenue to accommodate heritage into a streamlined process, as well as to safeguard places that are meaningful to communities.
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Thesis advisor: Ferguson, Karen
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