UBC Graduate Research

A Ghost of the Anthropocene : Design in the Aftermath of the Mount Polley Mine Disaster Khelifa, Sahar


On the morning of August 4, 2014, Hazeltine Creek and about 10 kilometers of British Columbia’s Cariboo Forest were in for an abrupt and violent end to their ancient lives when the tailings dam at the Mount Polley Mine upstream breached and released the vast majority of its stored contaminated waste: 25 million cubic meters, the equivalent of nearly 10,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The outpour wiped out thousands of trees, eroded the forest floor exposing the hidden bedrock beneath, and contaminated the once pristine Quesnel and Polley Lake water systems. The Mount Polley Mine Disaster is considered to be Canada’s worst environmental disaster and is the second largest recorded tailings spill in mining history. A landscape architect can be many things, as our growing profession continues to profess. We are ecologists and artists; leaders and activists; earth-shapers and earth-preservers. This project explores the role of the landscape architect as storyteller in troubled landscapes, using the Mount Polley Mine 2014 Disaster as a site and incident of investigation.

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