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Title: Gentrification through Public Participation? Acceptance and Resistance in Calgary’s Inner Suburbs
Author: Peterson, Kyle David
Advisor: Miller, Byron
Keywords: Geography;History--Canadian;Urban and Regional Planning
Issue Date: 16-Jul-2013
Abstract: This research examines the role of public participation in the planning process and its influence on suburban gentrification. Previous literature has critiqued the exclusionary nature of consensus-building and collaboration in urban planning processes, but there is little connection in the literature between those processes and gentrification. This research bridges this gap by explaining how consensus-building and collaboration processes may lead to gentrification, and how the same processes can be effectively used to limit the scope of gentrification. Through a mixed-methods comparative analysis of two Calgary suburban neighbourhoods, Bowness and the Greater Forest Lawn Area, the effect of public participation on gentrification is illustrated. The hegemony of pro-development interests was manifested in the public participation processes for two redevelopment plans in the Greater Forest Lawn Area. These redevelopment plans, were they to come to fruition, have the potential to gentrify the area. Participants in the public participation processes were convinced that New Urbanist principles could provide a blueprint to remake their neighbourhood. Public participation and collaboration, in this case, served to legitimize the gentrification process. Public participation has had the opposite effect in Bowness, where it has been used to resist gentrification. After being labeled a “community in need,” several Bowness social groups have worked to increase social cohesiveness through an ongoing public participation process. This has brought a diverse group of residents together around a central theme of strengthening the neighbourhood, largely through retaining its small town atmosphere. This movement is counter-hegemonic because it defies gentrification efforts aimed at the neighbourhood. The institutional arrangements in Bowness and the Greater Forest Lawn Area exemplify how public participation can be used to legitimize gentrification, but also how it can be used to resist the process.
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