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Small-business entrepreneurialism has been an important characteristic of the immigrant and ethnic identity in cities. The Vietnamese community in Greater Vancouver, Canada is no stranger to this. Small-business entrepreneurialism in Little Saigon along Kingsway has defined the Vietnamese Canadian experience in the city and the metro area for more than four decades. The thoroughfare has proven to be a place nurturing Vietnamese upward mobility as it offers economic opportunities to those with limited capital. However, the vibrant scene of Vietnamese and other ethnic businesses on Kingsway is being threatened by a rapid wave of redevelopments facilitated by urban policies and financial practices that pit the real estate market against ethnic neighborhoods. Today young Vietnamese have to become more creative and technologically savvy to circumvent the high costs of starting their businesses. This thesis, by reimagining the designs of the neighborhood, proposes several alternatives in urban policies and business financing options for the city, the local community, and financial stakeholders to curb the negative effects of redevelopment, uphold Kingsway’s entrepreneurial spirit, and expand upward mobility among those with limited capital, including local Vietnamese.
Recently sustainability has become a common consideration for urban development and design. However, its social dimension has been relatively neglected thus far (Vallanc, Perkins, and Dixon 2011; J. Robinson 2004, 378). This issue is especially significant when it comes to the development of the public realm of a city. Various elements of the public realm, including streets, are places where people meet, interact, and socialize. For this reason, the social aspect of sustainability should be one of the essential criteria when designing and developing public spaces. The focus of this study is the street as an element of the public realm and the relationship between the design of street frontages and the social sustainability of a street. From the complex spectrum of features of social sustainability, only those that are directly related to the design of street frontages were analyzed. The study was conducted at four locations in Vancouver. The results show that even though a particular area might be perceived as the one with high social qualities, it might still miss some of the critical elements of social sustainability. Additionally, it was concluded that certain features automatically induce many other qualities, promoting the development of social sustainability. The goal of this study was to generate information that could be used as a framework for future urban developments, so that cities can achieve social sustainability of the public realm.