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Palimpsests and placemaking: A critical inquiry of Strathcona as home

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
This dissertation draws connections between non-Indigenous settlement in BC and urban renewal by conducting an interdisciplinary critical place analysis of the neighbourhood of Strathcona from the late-1960s to the late-1970s to understand the legacy of settler-colonialism embedded into residential environments. Since the dominant land use in Vancouver is residential, housing becomes the prevailing visual marker of the city's colonial history. The residential structures visually reinforced a largely white, middle-class, British material culture in the styles of architecture, the emphasis on property ownership, and the cultural norms attached to living within the dwellings, which became associated with ideas of a modern and progressive city. This dissertation examines the ways the City of Vancouver employed the tools of colonialism—mapping, surveying, using experts, and developing a master plan—to shape their urban renewal plans for the neighbourhood of Strathcona. It also focuses on how the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association (SPOTA), a multilingual, multicultural, and multi-generational group of residents, organized and countered the hegemonic urban narratives and performances of domesticity rooted in the legacy of colonialism. They did so by using the very tools of the City to establish a counternarrative of neighbourhood rehabilitation as fostering a sense of inclusion and place within the city for renters and low-income homeowners. By drawing attention to the dual meaning of home as both a shelter that has an economic value, and as a site of belonging, this research establishes how Strathcona's residents successfully argued that the destruction of housing is also a destruction of identity, community, and relationships. It also illustrates how SPOTA, as the representative body of the residents, worked with all three levels of government to guide spending of federal, provincial, and municipal funding on the structural and social rehabilitation of their neighbourhood. This consensus decision-making model was the first time in Canada that urban redevelopment occurred with the active participation of residents, who successfully advocated that their sense of home—invested both in their individual dwellings and in the neighbourhood as a whole—had value and was worthy of preservation.
245 pages.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Dickinson, Peter
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