Date of Award

9-1997

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Geography

Supervisor

S. Martin Taylor

Abstract

This thesis examines psychosocial effects in a population living near the Halton Regional Landfill site in Milton, Ontario. The data described and analyzed in this research were collected between 1990 and 1995 and capture key events in the landfill site's history--site approval, construction and operation. This longitudinal study, which examines indicators of stress, reappraisal and coping at three different points in time from the same individuals, is designed to document and examine the process whereby these people have experienced and come to live with the landfill facility over time. The theoretical basis for understanding this process of appraisal, reappraisal and coping is derived from environmental stress and coping theory generally, and from the framework proposed by Lazarus and Folkman (1984) specifically. Three research objectives are addressed: (1) to document changes in psychosocial effects in Milton area residents between 1990 and 1995; (2) to explore the processes of reappraisal and coping among Milton area residents; and, (3) to evaluate the appropriateness and usefulness of the Lazarus and Folkman (1984) framework in the context of a population living proximate to a solid waste facility. These objectives are addressed through three administrations of a telephone survey instrument comprised of a combination of pre-validated scales and open- and closed-ended items to a random stratified (by distance) sample of households immediately after the landfill site was approved (1990), shortly after the site was constructed and began operation (1992-3), and two years after operation had begun (1995). Due to attrition, the baseline cohort (n = 187) was reduced to 108 by time 3, although no significant bias was introduced. Data from all three surveys were obtained for a sub-group of 87 respondents. Five constructs derived from environmental stress and coping theory guide the examination of individual responses to the landfill over time: psychological distress, perceptions of the landfill site, concerns about the landfill site, actions and neighbourhood satisfaction. A series of hypotheses, which capture expectations about how Milton area residents have experienced the introduction of the landfill site into their community over time, were generated from the constructs and guide the analysis. Overall, the results portray a community that has changed from one actively opposing plans to locate a landfill site in its midst to one that has, for the most part, resigned itself to and accepted the presence of the new facility. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

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