Presentation on theme: "Neighbourhood Change. I will be presenting today on immigration and neighbourhood change. First I want to share with you a short article I wrote for."— Presentation transcript:
I will be presenting today on immigration and neighbourhood change. First I want to share with you a short article I wrote for my co-op newsletter. It Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Developer A few years ago, Ken Stone, a property owner and wannabe developer turfed out my favourite grocery store and a number of other useful businesses in the strip mall across the street from Enclave 5. He then set about building a 25-unit condo development whose initial starting price was $1.1 million for a two-bedroom apartment – on a busy thoroughfare no less! The rationale for the hefty prices was “location” and the “bold” design of units, a product of architect Michael Green. As the development’s media flak said, “It’s very distinctive. It’s an incredible location and we wanted to share it with everyone.”
Other corporate bumpf includes: “Form and function seamlessly unite…. For architectural enthusiasts, the design is uniquely West Coast and inspired by the spectacular location.” Moreover, “[t]he delicate screen with strong rhythmic lines provides privacy and creates a bold silhouette.” I can’t say I know anyone who finds this complex attractive, and apparently sales have been sufficiently sluggish that they had to bring in the “Condo King,” Bob Rennie, move the product (since rebranded “Sixth and Steel”). He, no doubt, is also responsible for the ridiculous banner, “The Homes You Talked About With Friends Over Dinner Last Night,” perhaps not realizing the unintentional irony in this statement. In a full-page ad on page 3 of The Georgia Straight, Rennie claimed that three had sold last week, usually a sign that a development is in trouble. Usually, the tag line is “only four units left!!” Of course, some people are buying the units, the cost of which is $1.4 million for a four- bedroom apartment. As my mother would say, some people have more money than taste.
As a neighbour noted, who checked out the development for herself and took the accompanying photographs, the master bedroom of the unit she visited was small and the stairs were a killer – so don’t plan to retire there!
Canada’s major cities are extremely diverse – in races, ethnicities, and religions represented, languages spoken, and in business and cultural entities reflecting and serving this diversity. Between 1980 and 2006, 5.2 million immigrants entered Canada from a variety of source points around the globe. In Canada’s 11 largest cities, 30% of residents are foreign-born, and many are not native English speakers. See p. 159 of Hiller for an historical perspective. In the past, Anglo-Saxons and Western Europeans predominated, but southern and eastern Europeans became more prominent, as did Asians and Caribbeans, and also some Latin Americans (see Hiller, pp. 160-1, for breakdown by historical period).
Between 2001 and 2006, 77% of all immigrants lived in five Canada’s largest cities. Any ideas as to why? The immigrant population in Toronto and Vancouver is higher than anywhere else in the world. For the most part, people seem to mingle without major conflict, whereas in some countries – as in Europe, for instance – there is major conflict between original nationals and immigrants. Any ideas as to what accounts for the differences? Apart from high school completion ratios, immigrants in general are better-educated, though many are not able to put this education to full use. Many immigrants become successful in business, and recent immigrants from Asia tend to be more affluent than was the case in the past.
Despite their higher education levels, it has been shown that immigrants tend to work more part-time jobs and tend to have a lower income level – this apart from migrant labourers and foreign “guest workers.” Sociologists and geographers have long been interested in where immigrants settle. In the past, they have tended to settle in inner-city neighbourhoods where rents and house prices are low. And then, when they become more affluent, they often move out to the suburbs. But, now that inner city neighbourhoods are becoming more expensive, they are tending to settle in the suburbs to begin with – as with the large Indo- Canadian community in Surrey.
Many more affluent Chinese immigrants have settled in Richmond by choice, and downtown Chinatown has been faced with a crisis of identity as it struggles to maintain itself in the face of the extensive night markets of Richmond and the lack of a critical population base. On of the films at VIFF deals with this issue. (https://www.nfb.ca/search?csrfmiddlewaretoken=I4tGJ2lnCwYDuTjIdDmJ xZ6pmjoWdLfZ&q=Chinatown&btnG=Search )https://www.nfb.ca/search?csrfmiddlewaretoken=I4tGJ2lnCwYDuTjIdDmJ xZ6pmjoWdLfZ&q=Chinatown&btnG=Search
Of course, neighbourhood change can go either way. A number of middle-class single family neighbourhoods became ‘downwardly mobile’ (South-Central L.A.) as white families moved to the suburbs and some of the newer residents turned to gang activity and crime in view of the lack of economic opportunities (“Boyz ‘n the Hood”).
Alternatively, poor, working-class, and bohemian artist types – and funky small businesses – can get pushed out by steamrolling gentrification. There goes the neighbourhood!
So, what’s the solution? Is there a way of preventing gentrification, i.e., that traditional residential populations and businesses are ruthlessly cast aside? Is it inevitable that desirable cities like Vancouver will soon only be for the rich? What are your thoughts about possible solutions? -