I was reading a magazine that had three related articles about the development we are experiencing here in Alberta. The first article was questioning the lack of foresight on the part of the urban planners. It is a well written article, but one that is maybe a bit late in coming.
Calgary is Alberta's largest city, Edmonton, the capital of the province and between them they have experienced growth of 29 percent in just five years. They are both ranked as The Most Wasteful Cities In Canada! This is not something to be proud of!
To give you an idea of the size of these cities, lets compare shall we (as the article did) to New York City (all the Burroughs).
NYC: Pop: 8,274,527 Area in Sq Miles: 303.3
Calgary: Pop: 1,019,942 Area in Sq Miles: 280.5
Edmonton: Pop: 730,372 Area in Sq Miles: 264.2
Yes, NYC was settled in 1624, while Edmonton and Calgary weren't settled until 1795 & 1875 respectively, but we nevertheless have to stop growing out and start growing up! The entire population of Alberta is still less than half that of NYC by the way, it is: 3,497,881. Here are the Wiki links to Alberta and to NYC for those that like links and stats.
One obvious problem in trying to curtail the outward expansion is turning the publics thinking away from "outdoing the Joneses". Yes, the government has to take a big chunk of the responsibility for allowing the expansion in the first place, but the attitudes of the oil boomer's and their disposable incomes also needs to be changed. Just because you can afford a 5000 Sq Ft house for your 2.5 children, doesn't mean that you have to live in one! I admit, I am not much good at this, I can't see myself living in less than the 800 Sq Ft I now occupy and I could (and have) easily occupy many more Sq Ft.
The next article was about how we are plowing under our farmland and turning it into urban sprawl. It speculates that by 2105 the land between Edmonton and Calgary will be one continuous ribbon of industry and residential development. Only 5 percent of Canada is capable of producing food and only 0.5 percent of that is class one soil. What we do here in Alberta does have an effect on the rest of the country, according to Stats Can ¾'s of the dependable (class 1-3) agricultural land is concentrated between AB, SK & ON. In 2001, 6.5 percent of AB's class one land was occupied by urban development and you can bet that number has grown since then. It points out that when the grain trade is removed from the picture, Canada is a net importer of agricultural products. For example: we import 85 percent of our vegetables here in Alberta. That is just sick!
The last article in the magazine talks about farmers markets. I love farmers markets, you can get anything there and the veggies are the best. The author talks about her own experience running a stall at a farmers market and how since the boom has hit, they (she & a partner) are no longer making a profit. Nor are a lot of other folks at the markets, simply because they can't afford to hire help and still keep their prices low enough that people will buy. People are accustomed to buying produce at the grocery store, never mind that it comes from California and was picked before it was fresh and artificially induced to grow in the first place – it's cheaper! Yes, but it has no taste! Um, by the time it gets here anyway.
My cousin Leah (The Goat's Lunch Pail) pointed out in her blog yesterday that we are throwing away tons of food in this country. If we continue in this manner we will develop ourselves right out of existence!
Have a thoughtful day everyone.
P.S. I probably stole some direct lines from the articles mentioned - don't tell anyone.