Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Explaining Odlin Road: Insecurity and Exclusivity

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Explaining Odlin Road: Insecurity and Exclusivity

Article excerpt

Abstract: The multiple layers of inclusion and exclusion that exist within a community that prides itself on being tolerant are explored through a case study of protests against a local recovery home for addicts. The busing of exclusionary and coercive inclusionary demands in both culture and democratic tights, leads the author to argue that the identity politics fostered by multiculturalism is divisive, and ultimately runs counter to the wider aims of social justice. The author advocates instead for an emancipatory polities--multidimensionalism--that seeks to resolve and accommodate differences based in class, race, gender, sexuality and marginalized status through community building efforts, and at the level of the state.

Resume: Il existe plusieurs couches d'inclusion at d'exclusion a l'interieur d'une collectivite exprimant in fierte de sa tolerance. Le present travail est une etude de cas des protestations soulevees contre une maison de retablissement pour les toxicomanes. Les fondements des exigences d'exclusion el d'inclusion contrainte de in culture at des droits democratiques amenent l'anteur a soutenir que les politiques d'identite appuyees par le multiculiuralisme sement la discorde et vont a l'encontro des buts plus vastes de la justice sociale, Plutot. l'anteur preconise des politiques affranchies (volt multidimensionnelles) qui cherchent a resoudre et satisfaire Ins differences de classe, de race, de sexe, de sexualiate et de statut marginalise par l'entremise d'efforts communautaires et d'etat.

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The Turning Point

It is shameful and almost embarrassing to see members of my multicultural community call each other names and stereotyping one another. We have to keep in mind that we were once all immigrants and understand that there is a diversity of beliefs and values because it is part of identity (Fong 1999a; accessed November 4, 2001).

In the spring of 1999, a quiet bedroom community within Vancouver's Lower Mainland became the site of a local controversy. It began simply enough with an announcement in the mail. The Western Steps Recovery Society, a non-profit organization, notified residents of the Crestwood and Crimson Estate areas of Richmond that it was planning to move an existing recovery home for alcoholics and drug addicts onto Odlin Road, a street in their neighbourhood. The announcement immediately kicked off a maelstrom of anger and resentment among some of the area's residents who voiced strong opposition to the move.

The general area of Richmond that Turning Point chose to move into is composed of approximately 2,000 residents living mainly in single and semidetached houses (1) (Richmond 1996 census data (2)). It can be characterized primarily as a relatively stable, middle-class family neighbourhood. Rental properties make up only 10% of the area (3); the other 90% are owned and occupied, mainly by family groups of 3 or more individuals (ibid). Of the approximately 500 dwellings in the area, only 10 are classified as "non-family households" (ibid.); thus Turning Point was moving into an already rather small category.

Residents offered a variety of reasons for their objections to having the Turning Point home in their midst. Decreased property values and diminished quality of life were cited by some. Others complained that there should have been community consultation prior to the move (4): "As a non-profit organization and a social worker, they have a social obligation to consider the community as a whole" (protestor cited in Porter 1999b: B1). Many also repeatedly cited fears that the facility's clientele would pose a substantial threat to the community in the form of crime and disorder.

Angry residents variously complained of the move to City Hall, vocalized their opposition in a variety of public forums, and struck up petitions demanding that the Society relocate the home elsewhere, preferably outside of their neighbourhood. …

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