Falling Down and Climbing Up the Ladder of Neighbourhood Change: Filtering and Gentrification in Metro Vancouver, 1981-2006

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Louie, Vincent
Filtering , Gentrification , Neighbourhood Change , Vancouver
This report highlights neighbourhood-level changes to Metro Vancouver between 1981 and 2006. Census data from 1981 and 2006 were used to track changes to demographic, income, education, employment, and housing-related indicators for two identical analyses with different scopes. The first analysis separated census tracts into the following categories based on average adjusted household incomes: (1) inner city gentrified; (2) inner city filtered; (3) suburban gentrified/greenfield development; (4) suburban filtered; and (5) stable. "Inner city" referred to any census tracts within the municipal borders of Vancouver while "suburban" referred to the remaining municipalities in Metro Vancouver. The second analysis separated census tracts into three categories: (1) rising; (2) declining; and (3) stable. Neighbourhoods that were improving (i.e. either gentrified or rising) were mostly populated by young adults and immigrants who were well-educated. Education was insufficient to guarantee a higher income as many filtered or chronically impoverished neighbourhoods experienced increases to their proportions of university-educated adults but either stagnated or declined in terms of average adjusted household incomes. The landscape of Metro Vancouver shifted in favour of apartments, townhouses, and rowhouses as condominium ownership became an option to large segments of the population. Much of the new construction was at the cost of pre-1960s or pre-1970s dwellings, although relatively high proportions of the oldest housing stock remained in inner city gentrified and the chronically impoverished neighbourhoods. To ease gentrification pressures on the older, more affordable housing stock, municipalities directed development to brownfields and greenfield while using other initiatives to maintain and boost numbers of social and affordable housing options.
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