Real Estate

Tourism Impact on Stanley Park- Its Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity Tawsif Dowla

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Based on an investigative study, this paper describes tourism's impact on Stanley Park, including the park's vulnerability and adaptation capacity. Stanley Park, Vancouver, has been attracting visitors from all over the world since its
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    1 Table of Contents  Tourism Impact on Stanley Park: Its Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity ................................. 2 Positive Economic Impact....................................................................................................... 2  Negative Economic Impact ..................................................................................................... 3 Environmental Impact................................................................................................................. 3 Positive Environmental Impact ............................................................................................... 3  Negative Environmental Impact .............................................................................................. 4 Socio-cultural Impact.................................................................................................................. 4 Positive Socio-cultural Impact ................................................................................................ 4  Negative Socio-cultural Impacts ............................................................................................. 4 Tourism Vulnerability................................................................................................................. 4 Economic Vulnerability .......................................................................................................... 5 Environmental Vulnerability ................................................................................................... 5 Socio-cultural Vulnerability .................................................................................................... 6 Final Words: Adaptive Capacity of Stanley Park and Future Mitigation ...................................... 6 References .................................................................................................................................. 8 Appendix A .............................................................................................................................. 10 Appendix B .............................................................................................................................. 11 Appendix C .............................................................................................................................. 12   2 Tourism Impact on Stanley Park: Its Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity Officially opened in 1888, Stanley Park is Vancouver’s first and the largest urban park. Though resulted from the Garden City Movement of the late 1800s (Hall & Lew, p. 46), Stanley Park, unlike other urban parks, is not a creation of landscape architect, but a dynamic hybrid of nature and culture (Kheraj, 2010. p. 1). Popularly known as an urban oasis, in 2014, Stanley Park took top spots in TripAdsior’s Top 25 Parks of the World list (City of Vancouver, 2016e). To most visitors and locals alike, Stanley Park is a snippet of what Vancouver used to look like  before it became a city. However, as affirmed by the Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES), Stanley Park is not an untouched wilderness (SPES, 2010, p. 24). Since creation, Stanley Park has been transformed to create venues for formal recreation and facilitate tourism (SPES, 2010,  p. 24). As a result, the forested park has decreased by 25% between 1930 and 1980, and further 4% since then (SPES, 2010, p. 5). However, the public attitude has changed since the 1980s in favour of conservation. Founded in 1988, SPES, for example, plays a leadership role in  promoting awareness of and respect for the natural world through collaborative initiatives (SPES, 2019). Stanley Park is also enriched in cultural heritage spanning from the time when early Coast Salish people lived here (SPES, 2010, p. 20). The heritage buildings, gardens and famous Sea Wall, built over the past centuries are also treasured historical features of the park. To preserve its integrity, both natural and historical, in 2002, Stanley Park was designated as a  National Historic Site of Canada (SPES, 2010, p. 29). Economic Impact  The impact is, as defined by Hall and Lew (2009), “A change in a given state over time as the result of an external stimulus” (p. 84). Stimulus, in this article, is primarily tourism. However, Hall and Lew (2009), have also argued, “…tourism impacts are very rarely, if ever, a one-way relationship” (p. 2). Instead, tourism affects both people and things and in turn, is affected by them (Hall & Lew, 2009, p. 2). Hence, while examining the impacts, economic environmental, or socio-cultural, several coexisting stimuli have also been described throughout this article. Positive Economic Impact Out of 10.3 million overnight visitors (Tourism Vancouver, 2019c) visited Vancouver in 2017, approximately eight million (Tourism Vancouver, 2019a) made their trip to Stanley Park, which vastly outnumbers the total 2.5 million population of Metro Vancouver. According to Canadian Parks Council's (CPC) (2009), report on the economic impact of Canada's parks, "Economic impacts describe the change in local/regional economic activity (i.e. employment, wages and salaries, output, value-added taxes) generated by investment spending" (p. 1). To understand the economic impact, it is thereby necessary to identify the economic activities within Stanley Park. To augment the visitors' experience, industries operating inside the park, both basic and non-basic (Hall and Lew, 2009, p. 87) in nature, commoditize experiences with price tags. The basic industries within the park, as categorized by City of Vancouver (2016), are a) play, b) ride, c) explore, and d) dine-in Stanley Park. The non-basic industries are the retail shops scattered all around the park. As mentioned by CPC (2009, p. 7), many park agencies, do not collect visitor spending information regularly because of the cost associated with the acquisition of data. Stanley Park is no exception and thereby, this research relies on the visitor expenditure by industry sector from Tourism Vancouver (2016c). From the visitor expenditure data (shown in appendix A), it can be   3 guesstimated (Hall & Lew, p. 106) that, except the expenditure associated with accommodations, Stanley Park has a direct economic impact towards all other sectors of tourism. Negative Economic Impact The economic impact of tourism can also be detrimental. To be mentioned here, significant adverse impacts of tourism in Stanley Park may result from loss of biodiversity and through socio-cultural degradation, which will be discussed separately in this paper. However, there are other elements related to tourism in Stanley Park, whose impact needs careful consideration. Demand on public services . Below is a TripAdvisor review, which echoes visitors' resentments about the scarcity of public service. "Parking is a trap…full of tourists, old, outdated washrooms, overpriced food, cyclists overtake the roadways"   (TripAdvisor, 2016). Mitigation of such issues needs infrastructural development, which will cost the city additional funds and, eventually, additional tax on the locals. The increased cost of living . According to the Global Liveability Index 2019, Vancouver is the sixth livable cities in the world (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2019). Tourism offers a window to this attractive city for the vast number of 'rich and famous' visitors who eventually want to call Vancouver their home. The increased cost of living and inflation in the property values in Vancouver today can thereby be tied to tourism. Minimum wage and temporary employment . Because businesses are incredibly seasonal and weather dependent in the Park, hiring managers tend to hire temporary or part-time employees for minimum wages with no benefits. Hiring managers, however, tend to exploit seasonality as a measure for cost savings. Such exploitation often results in employment uncertainty. Environmental Impact  Tourism has a direct impact on the environment of the destination. However, travelling to and from the destination can also have an impact on a global scale (Hall & Lew, 2009, p. 186). Positive Environmental Impact  Described in Vancouver Natural History Society’s 2006 guide, Wilderness on the Doorstep, “…it is the Stanley Park’s forest, especially its large old cedars and Douglas-firs that gives the Park its international reputation” (Kheraj, 2013, pp. 2, 3). Such a statement provides, as Hall and Lew (2009) has asserted, “…an economic justification for conserving biodiversity, landscapes and specific species” (p. 190). People of Vancouver have always been passionate about Stanley Park (SPES, 2010, p. 24). Such passion was in clear demonstration after hurricane-force winds levelled about 10,000 trees in Stanley Park on December 5, 2006 (SPES, 2010, p. 25). In a Globe and Mail (2006) interview the then-mayor of Vancouver, Sam Sullivan said, “This is a national treasure, it is a provincial treasure. People from all over the world come here…Our No. 1 priority…is helping to restore this Park to its former glory.” Eventually,  because of the massive outpouring support and the donations from the locals, Stanley Park quickly revived from such disaster.   4 Negative Environmental Impact Above mentioned positive environmental impact is a classic example of what Budowski (1976) described as a symbiosis relationship between tourism and environment (as cited in Hall and Lew, p. 194) where both tourists and communities can benefit so as the environment. The detrimental impact of tourism on the environment begins when these two elements conflict (Budowski, 1976 as cited in Hall & Lew, 2009, p. 194), which unfortunately is present in Stanley Park. Coexistence is the most common relationship between tourism and the environment in the Park, with some lack of contact. As Budowski (1976, as cited in Hall & Lew, 2009, p. 194) has affirmed, such lack of contact may induce substantial changes with an increasing number of tourists. Other environmental issues or stressors are in appendix B; the most significant of which is climate change (SPES, 2010, p. 6). Socio-cultural Impact Shaped by cultures and society, tourism is a cultural phenomenon which eventually impacts the culture of the society. Positive Socio-cultural Impact  Since its creation, Stanley Park has impacted the culture and society of Vancouver in many different ways. Perhaps not thoughtfully considered in 1888, the creation of Stanley Park was, in fact, the beginning of Vancouver's shift from an extraction towards an experience economy. People of Vancouver soon started appreciating nature more than ever, which prevails until the present day. Vancouver's healthy lifestyle is now full display, on its seawall, along the trails and roads. As mentioned in the City of Vancouver's (2015) Greenest City Action Plan, "These space also contribute to our sense of community by creating a place for recreational activities, for children to play, and for neighbours to meet and socialize" (p. 33). Negative Socio-cultural Impacts Since 1888, Stanley Park has been an idyllic getaway for the Vancouver residents and their visitors, providing all "four realms of experience" (Pine & Gilmore, 2009). However, the creation of the park is also responsible for the displacement and dispossession of the indigenous inhabitants of the Park peninsula (Kheraj, 2013, p.xvi). Around the same time Lord Stanley, the sixth Governor-General of Canada dedicated the park, "To the use and enjoyment of people of all colours, creeds, and customs," the people of the Coast Salish First Nations, including the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil Waututh  were systemically removed from their ancestral land. Efforts have been made to resurrect the indigenous heritage by erecting Totem Poles or establishing  Klahowya  Village. However, such careful effort also echoes what Hall and Lew (2009) have articulated as, "…museumization of the heritage place, separating it from the natural evolution of the larger society and fixing it is a 'preferred' period of time" (p. 144). In July 2010, Squamish Nation's proposal to rename the Park to  Xwayxway  (a Squamish village in Stanley Park until 1888) was turned down by Canadian heritage minister (Georgia Straight, 2010). When discussions around such denial are outside the scope of this article, the above findings exemplify a common inharmoniousness between heritage conservation and tourism development (Hall & Lew, p. 144). Tourism Vulnerability According to Wall (2005), “Vulnerability refers to the extent to which a system may be (adversely) affected, disrupted, or displaced by an external force” (p. 40). Tourists, at this   5  juncture, can be viewed as an external force. The sheer number of tourists, as Hall and Lew have suggested, “can also directly infringe upon the quality of life for residents” (2009, p. 181). Economic Vulnerability Though considered moderate, compared to the rest of British Columbia or Canada as a whole, tourist arrival to the south of Vancouver's iconic North Shore mountains is minimal  between October and May. Such seasonality negatively impacts nature-based tourism the most, with Stanley Park being a perfect example. Business operators in Stanley Park, thereby tend to form a casual, part-time, and eventually low-paid workforce to mitigate between seasonality and  profitability. Quite often, women and migrants occupy such lower-paid employment, adding to the systemic wage-disparity that already exists in furthering economic and social vulnerability. Such vulnerability and sense of insecurity result in low morals, lack of motivation, or increased turnover among the employees. Such low morals and motivations, if not assessed and addressed, often result in inadequate care of tourism products and services, adding consequential vulnerabilities to the tourism economy. Environmental Vulnerability A tourist comment left on TripAdvisor is worth mentioning at the outset of this segment on the environmental vulnerability of tourism. The tourist who lived in Vancouver 25 years ago says, “There were black squirrels, loads of geese and wildlife: It is so sterile now, tourism has really made its mark…little sad” (TripAdvisor, 2016). Identified as social issues by SPES, the above statement suggests that there is a correlation between tourism and declining wildlife. The following are the social issues, as identified by SPES (2010, pp. 167-179). Wildlife feeding . According to SPES, though interacting with wildlife a critical part of Stanley Park visitors experience, unfortunately, those interactions that include feeding often result in significant negative impacts on native animals (SPES, 2010, p. 167). Infrastructure and developments . Road and trails, such as Park Drive, Pipeline Road, and the Causeway have significant impacts on the habitats. Such effects, according to SPES (2010, p. 170), are primarily due to habitat fragmentation, which is exacerbated by increased human access and noise. Off-trail activities . Tourist activities, according to SPES (2010, pp. 171-173), include off-trail bikes, off-leash dogs and other illegal activities, contributing to vegetation trampling, soil compaction, and spread of invasive plants (SPES, 2010, p. 171). Air pollution . The major contributor to air pollution in Stanley Park, as SPES (2010) confirms, “…is from the thousands of cars that pass through it each day” (p. 179). According SPES, mostly the tourists contribute to the above environmental vulnerabilities. Although Park managers try to regulate visitors in a variety of ways (SPES, 2010,  p. 181), they usually are outnumbered by the tourists. Taking Budowski’s (1976) perspective into consideration, it can be revealed that, though coexistence and symbiosis prevail (as cited in Hall and Lew, 2009, p. 194), there are significant conflicts on the relationship between tourism and the environment. Such conflicts are apparent as daylight making Stanley Park environmentally vulnerable.
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