Timothy Taylor’s Stanley Park

Joseph (1) claims that Timothy Taylor, in his novel ‘Stanley Park’, is responding to the eminent concerns of gentrification by the local people living in Downtown Eastside, which is historically, Vancouver’s oldest and least important area. This paper will address the issue of gentrification – how it focuses in Taylor’s ‘Stanley Park’ and whether it is beneficial or not in the present climate of globalization.

Vandergrift (9) tells us that gentrification has been a weighted term since Ruth Glass first used the term in explanation of the supplanting of lower or working class populace by those from the middle classes and that it has been a perplexing misunderstood occurrence which remains in dispute. She also claims that a number of people regard gentrification as difficult to interpret because of the number of different processes by which it occurs.

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Others believe that the displacement caused by gentrification is a primary concern for governments and communities. It appears that all however, want to protect original residents in the neighborhoods and believe to do so, is important for people and their cultures. Taylor makes subtle reference to gentrification via two of his main characters and the grapple between them: Jeremy the chef and Dante the international coffee-shop owner.

This grapple seems to depict a sort of muted neighbourhood gentrification wherein Jeremy, a connoiseur of local gastronomy, wants to open and manage his own local restaurant, without borrowing money from Dante; and a more global gentrification wherein Dante is intent to use the restaurant as a stepping stone in his blatant attempts to internationalize his restaurant empire and gentrify the area.

Over the last twenty years, the political climate has changed a lot in western societies, and, according to Blomley (29), the number of cities around the world affected by the vigorous worldwide changes in work and property organizations, are mushrooming, and that the process of gentrification differs between different cities. Kidd (2) claims that the most common process of gentrification, as is the case in Downtown Vancouver, is that because of cheap rents, trendy, artistic people move into poor, inner-city areas, leading to the development of stylish cafes, bars and art galleries.

The middle-class, urban professionals then start moving into the area, changing the area until the original trendies are forced out due to accelerating rents and rising house prices. So, where there once were inexpensive, dingy dives for the artistic types, there are now exclusive attic and warehouse apartments for professionals such as lawyers, solicitors and media people.

Atkinson (1) tells us that there has been a rekindled concern to persuade the middle classes to come back to the cities that many have left, and that the growing interest in the cheaper areas by the middle class urban professionals is gentrification. He tells of a study undertaken by ESRC Centre for Neighbourhood Research, who reviewed all previous research on the topic of gentrification between 1964 and 2001, to try to find how and if gentrification could create an urban revival.

Results of the study revealed that there were more disadvantages than advantages with gentrification. Disadvantages included issues such as displacement of people and families because of rising rents and real estate prices, racial and neighbourhood disputes and pressures, and the problem of property owners pestering tenants. The minimal number of advantages included increases in tax revenue, property values and social mix, together with upgrading of local services and the environment.

Atkinson (2) concluded that although the evidence showed that gentrification had proved to foster unbalanced results in the past, there was still a concern that governments would still regard it as an answer in developing poorer areas. Butler and Robson, also in reference to gentrification in London, tell us that the processes of gentrification there are unique and that they are all related to creating neighbourhoods, and symbolize a variety of responses to globalization, which is impinging on urban space and rearranging society in London.

In conclusion, it appears that although there is much debate and research on the issue of gentrification, more research on displacement and displacees, and whether more central planning would be constructive or destructive to communities, is required. As Vandergrift (9) states, environs are changing environments but with unchanging labels, and the basic and crucial issue with gentrification is the disparity, which in turn fosters debate about those who have the control or clout to construct their neighbourhoods and those who should have more influence or control.