Planning Hegemony: Discourses of Urban Governance

Vanessa Parlette
Communication, Simon Fraser
April, 2007
 

Abstract

Post-Fordist shifts in urban governance have been characterized by a trend toward competitive city entrepreneurialism, signalled by an orientation away from the provision of collective social services, and to creating a hospitable business climate for foreign investment and consumer activities. Via discourse analysis of the new Toronto Official Plan, this thesis contrasts the image of downtown public spaces as commodified sites of spectacular consumption, as part of a wider project of downtown revitalization to solicit transnational capital, to the impoverishment of public space and infrastructure in the dilapidated former suburbs. Based on an activist project in a Toronto suburban community, I explore the challenges and opportunities for enacting an alternative vision that counters that of downtown gentrification. More broadly, I hope to move beyond resistance, in creating spaces that facilitate citizen engagement and influence in the decision-making processes of urban planning in response to local and global forces of governance.
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