UBC Graduate Research

Rewilding the West Schille, Blaire Donna


In 2060, the collapse of the oil industry in Alberta has turned Calgary into a shadow of its former self. The industry’s sharp decline led to soaring vacancy rates amongst the upper tax-bracket demographics, leaving the future of the city to be determined by those most disenfranchised by the economic fallout. The evolution of infrastructure as the primary determinant of urban space has continued globally, but post-oil Calgary has slipped behind the curve. The city’s situation demands more than costly demolitions. The inextricable forces of desire, culture, gender, class, sustenance, ritual, maintenance, technology, and economics driving Calgary and its people are far too complex to be handled by the next “innovative” solution. Previously-established infrastructures which now inhibit the connections they once enabled must be reinvented, to work with the natural forces of the landscape and forge new links within remaining communities. We understand the role of oil in sites of exploration, extraction, corporate business, and consumption - but oil also created a framework for social geography. The memory of industry is intimately connected with place-based identity, and the meanings attached to a place are shaped by the stories told about its past. Spaces that exist at the confluence of social and economic factors are just as much a part of the story of the petroleum industry and what will happen when it’s gone. This thesis creates opportunities for a diversified future through reconstructing the relationship between nature and the culture of a city shaped by submission to the global network of oil.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International