chapter  16
19 Pages

Sex, Scale and the ‘New Urban Politics’: HIV-Prevention Strategies from Yaletown, Vancouver

Wedged between Vancouver’s downtown core and its gay West End, Yaletown presents a study in contrasts for urban political inquiry. It is a rapidly gentrifying warehouse district, whose proximity to the central city has made it a prime target for redevelopment over the past five years. On its southern edge, the former Expo ‘86 grounds are currently being transformed into condominium towers, staging the largest development project in the city’s history.1 Warehouses now stand next to gleaming luxury towers. Trendy cafés and art galleries are springing up in renovated ‘character’ buildings. Yaletown’s landscape changes signify what Cox (1991, 1993) has recently labelled as ‘the new urban politics’ visible in North American cities. These are the politics of local economic development (often specifically large-scale construction projects). Over the past decade, they have claimed great priority and attention amongst scholars. Intertwined with an empirical focus on central-city development, there has been a mounting theoretical interest in situating city politics in the context of broader-scale forces of globalisation, more specifically the mobility of capital in affecting development in particular places (Cox and Mair 1988; Cox 1993). Indeed, much of Vancouver’s development capital has been financed by offshore interests, from Asia and Hong Kong especially (Gutstein 1990; Barnes et al. 1992). Given this theoretical concern with global capital mobility, and an empirical focus on local development, urban political inquiry would readily draw our attention to the new urban politics shaping this portion of the central city.