Territoire et économie

Central Neighborhoods’ Revitalization and the Tourist Bubble: From Gentrification to Touristification of daily life in Montreal

Bélanger, H., Lapointe, D., Guillemard, A. (2020). Central Neighborhoods’ Revitalization and the Tourist Bubble: From Gentrification to Touristification of daily life in Montreal. Bean, J.,  Dickinson, S., IDA, A., The Uneximed : Critical Inquiries on Architecture and Place. : 1-20.



Urban stakeholders, in a context of neoliberal international competition, seek to attract economic activities, tourists and new wealthy residents (Evans, 2009; Kavaratzis, 2007). One of the favorite actions, in order to capture unwarranted earnings (Harvey, 1989), is the construction of a “hard” brand image through the alteration of symbolic and physical attributes of a place in order to create a unique experience (Zukin, 1995). By doing so in residential environments, they create spectacular, clean and safe spaces framed by leisure, authenticity and consumerism social discourses in what can be associated with tourist bubbles (Judd and Feinstein, 2001). We argue that this contributes to the commodification of space and people (Britton, 1990; Edensor, 2001), where tourism intermingles with dwelling (to dwell), giving blurred boundaries between daily life and a/the tourism experience what we call touristification of daily life. In the city of Montreal, neighborhoods’ revitalization leads, not only to gentrification but also to touristification of daily life. In these neighborhoods, space is staged, secured and standardized to provide an experience, a landscape, a way of life, thereby producing a space (Lefebvre, 1974) that conforms to the needs of capital (Harvey, 2001). The transformation of space excludes marginalized populations, poor residents and their private market affordable housing. Traditional private rental market is shrinking and is replaced by a new one. Housing is now a capital investment for small and big investors who target middle and upper middle classes contributing to the speculative bubble. This paper argues that urban planning practices should challenge physical and symbolic exclusion. Using examples based on observations and interviews with stakeholders and residents from three neighborhoods in Montreal, it will illustrate how urban planning leads to a chain reaction from City’s revitalization plan, to private real estate development, to gentrification, and finally to touristification of daily life. The authors will discuss how urban planning practice should go beyond these neoliberal approaches.