(at least) two cities

1297452288978_originalWanted to share this post I wrote a little while back over on my personal web site:

Source: (at least) two cities

It’s as good a time as any in the year – a day many devote to the idea of love –  to take a minute to stop and think about what kind of community we want, and what we can each do to help make that happen, no matter how small that contribution may be.

Here’s to showing some openness and kindness – and love –  to all our neighbours in YEG,  every day of the year.

The View from Here

A lovely series of postcards and images of Edmonton over the years, as found in the Peel Collection at the University of Alberta – click on the image for the link:


Jasper Avenue looking west, about 1930

Photo: Peel’s Prairie Provinces, a digital initiative of the University of Alberta Libraries

As much as I love these images, they also make me sad.

We have lost so much of the fabric of this place – it is a young, dynamic city still – but increasingly homogeneous, bland, faceless, characterless.

And with those incremental losses of the built history of this city, we lose the personality, and sense of place and identity, that will continue to make this city (ANY city) a place people frame as their home – their neighbourhood – the place they belong.




Mapping Change

I feel fortunate to have come across Matthew Dance’s blog very recently, thanks to mention in a roundup in Karen Unland’s blog seenandheardyeg.

Dance does a great job of sifting through a mass of development data – in this case, development permits – to provide a graphic summary of what is going on in the central neighbourhoods of this city.

This is the graphed and plotted reality on the streets: building, development, money changing hands, people moving and being moved … change everywhere, and not all of it for the better.

And Dance notes in an earlier post on the notion of gentrification:

Questions of gentrification are important as they highlight power shifts at a variety of spatial scales; from small public spaces to neighborhoods and cities. As urban land use changes (the development and naming of ‘Ice District’, The Quarters, infill housing) those without a voice can haver their communities dismantled, impacting individuals by putting them out of home, and requiring them to move from their social networks and communities of support. It is not just the questions that are important, but also but how we frame and attempt answer them.

This process also raises questions (in my mind at least) regarding the dramatic, almost violent scope of these changes in some areas. The construction blitz that hit the Boyle Street neighbourhood over the last couple of years has rendered swaths of the area virtually impassable for months on end.  Hardly a method of working that reveals any sort of consideration or sensitivity toward those people actually living there … and especially not for those who call the area home, but may not have long-term, permanent accommodation.


From Matthew Dance’s Blog. His caption reads: Figure 5: The Quarter’s Boundary. Small red dots are residences (apartments, condos, houses) and associated structures (detached garages, sheds, etc). Blue are engineering (infrastructure maintenance, utilities, hoarding, etc). Green are various retail, restaurants and bars. Yellow are offices.

It doesn’t seem like a lot- just a few dots on a map – but the changes mapped here are profound, and will continue to be felt for many years to come.

What the future holds (other than a gaping hole or two as developers back out of plans for the area) is anyone’s guess at this point, regardless of the intent of various stakeholders.

I worry for our  city, for the people in it who have so much at stake and so little voice or power in the face of these  shifts.

And I worry for the fragile history of this place as it disappears.