Revanchism in the Canadian West: Gentrification and Resettlement in a Prairie City

Kara Granzow, Amber Dean

Abstract


This paper provides a local, quasi-ethnographic, activist-oriented analysis of the City of Edmonton’s gentrification of an area just adjacent to the downtown core. Announced in 2005 and according to the teachings of self-proclaimed “go-to guru” Richard Florida, City officials have called this a “revitalization” of the “downtown east.” The process and its already apparent effects reveal the strategy as one towards a targeted re-appropriation of land and forced displacement of people in the interest of accumulating first cultural but ultimately financial capital. Through analysis of the City of Edmonton’s public meetings, as well as through the analysis of materials provided at those meetings and on City websites, we offer a critique of the City’s process, we debunk Florida’s “creative class” ideology, and finally, most importantly, we situate the gentrification of Edmonton’s downtown within the historical and local context. The particular process of gentrification of this particular Western Canadian city is congruent with the “original” and continual theft of the land from indigenous inhabitants. It also must be considered in light of the cases in which women, mostly aboriginal, have gone missing or been murdered, sometimes from this very neighborhood. Edmonton’s “revitalization” process hides its gentrification and hides an utter inattention to historical parallels and to contemporary issues of urgency.

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