Saturday, April 24, 2010

Post Industrial Disease

You'd never know that there's a recession going on if someone dropped you off in the Lower mainland of British Columbia. Every time I venture into the region from Chilliwack to Whistler, I am constantly floored at the amount of development going on and at the pace its going up. High rises in Surrey, Burnaby, New Westminster, North Vancouver, and West Vancouver sprout like mushrooms after a deluge. And the deluge feeding this development frenzy is an unrestrained population boom fueled by immigration and migration. New residents need homes, roads, places to work and places to conduct commerce. The conversion of farmland and woodlot to high density urban development carries on in a frenzy. And along the new and improved Highway 99 thanks to an infusion of Olympic-inspired investment money, former gritty mining towns and timber towns are being transformed into tony vacation towns. All those folks generating new wealth need places to play. Squamish is rapidly becoming an urban exclave for the mountain biking, backcountry skiing, wouldn't it be nice to own a condo here in the wilds folks. I once lamented the loss of old growth trees that fueled the timber mills of Squamish. The mills are long gone-a victim of the WTO. Now I lament the loss of the former cut over timberlands-where once regeneration was possible to productive woodlots and viable wildlife habitat-now forever lost to golf courses, second homes, high density homes, shopping malls-sprawl. In 20 years Squamish has gone from a somewhat isolated small industrial town to yet another high density urban mess emanating from Vancouver. But, hey the folks who come here are "green." They ride their bikes and cross country ski and recycle. But their homes and business and continuous numbers of them use up incredible amounts of power lighting up their city-and powering their gadgets-and fueling their rigs to get them to the trailheads and back and forth to the city. And there's nothing green about unnecessary developments devouring wildlife habitat.

Yep-(sarcasm here) I'm glad the evil timber mills are gone-I much prefer to see them replaced with 1000s of condos sprawling across the valley and up the ridges to Garibaldi Provincial Park. Yep-that's the new economy-recreation based-and fueled by unsustainable and ecologically disastrous immigration and a whole lot of new wealth that does nothing but consume. And its not just happening in Squamish-this is playing out all over Canada and the states. Have you been to Bend, Oregon lately? Good thing those resource-consuming sawmills are gone, uh? They've succumbed to post-industrial disease.

(photo-a giant logger greets you in Squamish, BC. Loggers are all but gone from this town-and so too are the sawmills -replaced by a post industrial world of condos, shopping centers, golf courses, sprawl, and an endless supply of folks looking for the good life)

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