In the UK the term `gentrification' was associated with the gentle transformation of someone who'd become a successful member of the merchant class. And who, despite their lowly roots, acquired, or built, a country mansion. These nouveau riche discovered and adapted to a life of privilege and learned that with privilege came, at least, local responsibility. This transformation of class has been an ongoing paradigm shift through the last five centuries, as the established - by blood lines - families were usurped by the nouveau riche. It was often the sub plot in English novels of the period. This new class of landed gentry actually became the subjects of `gentrification' as the nouveau riche of commerce became gentrified.
However, in North America, the term `gentrification' describes the process of renewal and rebuilding which accompanies the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating urban areas where they frequently displace poorer residents who cannot compete in the resulting new economy. But it can also refer to where raw land is purchased cheaply by a developer, who then transforms the purchased undeveloped area into numerous `country retreats' for the upper middle class.
This is the kind of development proposed by Ender Ilkay, a Vancouver real estate speculator, who has obtained preliminary approval to build 266 vacation homes along 17 km of the Juan de Fuca trail on Vancouver Island's South West Coast. Ender Ilkay, the speculative developer, will benefit, but what possible benefit can there to the the rugged and wild Juan de Fuca Trail? I find it difficult to comprehend how local politicians could contemplate granting preliminary approval. Are they so out of touch with the world that they only view their local area through the myopic lens of a developer?
Erecting new strata homes on the Renfrew Road, far from any ancillary infrastructure like stores and markets, in an age where the world is becoming increasingly dependent upon shrinking supplies of oil products, is extremely shortsighted. What happens in 10 years when the price of gas is over $5 per litre? Will those residents then demand bus services into Sooke?
No, we should ensure that the once logged Juan de Fuca Trail is left for all our citizens to enjoy. The world is here for all of us. We don’t need to exploit it for taxes and profit.
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