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Can a preservationist ideology halt the process of creative destruction? Evidence from Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

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For more than 50 years, rural municipalities across the developed world have struggled to redefine themselves in the face of declining primary sector employment. In some places, this struggle has led to the creation of landscapes that provide heritage-seekers with tangible commodities and intangible experiences reflecting a by-gone past. Recent research suggests that these post-productivist heritage-scapes may evolve into leisure-scapes of mass consumption, if profit or economic growth are the key motives underlying development ( Mitchell and Vanderwerf 2010 ). This article questions whether a dominant ideology of preservation can prevent this scenario. We studied Salt Spring Island, British Columbia: (i) to determine if the island displays the characteristics of a heritage-scape, (ii) to discover if a preservationist ideology has contributed to its current state, and (iii) to ponder if this state can be maintained, in light of recent regional and provincial discourse. Our analysis reveals that the creation, and maintenance, of this heritage-scape has been guided largely by public discourse underlain by a preservationist ideology. This prolonged state, however, may be drawing to an end. Recent provincial directives to double tourist revenues suggest that local (and regional) discourse soon may be overshadowed by the province's mandate to promote economic growth. The response of local stakeholders will ultimately dictate the Island's ability to maintain its present state as a post-productivist heritage-scape.
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Keywords: conservation; creative destruction; destruction créatrice; heritage-scape; paysages patrimoniaux; post-productivism; post-productivisme; preservation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo

Publication date: 2011-06-01

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