Very proud to read this opinion piece by Rob Sherren (damn straight, relation) in the Globe and Mail yesterday, The market doesn’t care about your community. A hard truth, and one that explains much industrially derived grief today from Alberta to Ontario to Nova Scotia. Industry is more than economy, it is culture and identity and community. I find it interesting that the bio lists Rob’s work as the ‘energy sector’, which in these days of government pipelines and bailouts is usually code for the oil and gas sector, but my brother develops wind farms.
Halifax is a mess. I’m not kidding. For those of us who have cars and kids in summer camps all over the place, instead of its usual peaceful summer self, Halifax is detour central. Downtown is under construction, with towers pushing out of heritage skins, and two of the five roads leading into the dreaded Armdale Rotary are closed for various reasons. This is relatively new. For years, nothing could be built downtown, it seemed, because of the need to protect views to the 18th century defensive citadel at the heart of the city. While the volume of work simultaneously underway is inconvenient, it is like a wildfire spreading after decades or centuries of fire suppression. This is Yellowstone, circa 1988. Liebskind is right (see photo). The citadel is not what Halifax is about anymore. It doesn’t meet new needs for urban densification, for instance. (It also bears mentioning, it never did meet needs; the Citadel was never attacked.)
But why stop at cities? Why is it that busses line up on cruise ship days to take thousands of visitors to Peggy’s Cove? Peggy’s Cove is a simulacra of an 18th century coastal Nova Scotia fishing village, with its Peggy’s Point Lighthouse sitting atop massive granite outcrops arguably the most photographed place in the region. Rather than relying on fishing, this place and others like it now rely on tourism that commemorates a Golden Age idea of ‘Maritimicity’ (coined by eminent Canadian historian Ian McKay in 1988). We might need rural places for new things, like renewable energy, but if we’re not careful, the ‘tourism state’ will deny such alternate visions.
Great to see Penny Slight’s 2012 SSHRC-funded MES thesis appearing in the literature, via a new paper, Policy support for rural economic development based on Holling’s ecological concept of panarchy. She identified leverage points on the adaptive change cycle where economic development agencies could intervene to improve rural futures, based on interviews with economic development agents in the Canadian Maritimes. Penny has been working since graduation as an Environmental Scientist at Nova Scotia Power. I was on her committee, which was led by my colleague Michelle Adams.