“Gentrification is a process of neighborhood change in a historically disinvested neighborhood by means of real estate investment and new higher-income residents moving in – and which often results in an increase in property values and the displacement of earlier, usually poorer residents.”
In the process of gentrification, the ultimate goal of developers is to increase profit at whatever cost to the community and environment. The discourses used and decisions made shape planning towards a particular imagined result and to appeal to certain people. In Squamish, the outdoor adventure lifestyle is marketed in developments such as RedBridge’s, “Adventure connected, community driven.” The Oceanfront is aims to attract 6500 people with zero affordable housing. It is branded as “an elegant and exciting new residential and retail development that marks the first step in the upcoming Squamish waterfront renaissance.”
Renaissance, community, adventure… Seldom are the words affordable, diverse, or characteristic used. Leading up to gentrification, the words more commonly heard are deleritc, eyesore, property value. In the process, an area is homogenized, the familiar ripped down, and the beige “monocultures” are absent of difference or history and do not reflect local needs nor contain the elements that made them desirable in the first place. While “out with the old, in with the new,” is the motto among politicians, developers are “more concerned with boosting real estate values and tourism and less about community and environmental concerns.” The result: residents can feel disconnected from their surroundings, are uprooted, displaced and like the old man in the film “Up,” they experience intense pressure to sell their family homes. They tend to feel a growing dislike for their new boxed in surroundings. The sun no longer shines on their garden like it once did.
Views considered sacred, open for all to enjoy, are now commodified for a wealth driven, privatized environment. Uprooted, tossed around, to be replaced by the next arrival who the government and developers can better benefit and lurch off; those more willing to play this game that they have created.
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