Author James Howard Kunstler’s (readable, but tres 1997) website was quoted on page A3 of today’s Vancouver Sun. This was undoubtably because he’s making fun of Calgary, but I liked what he said:
Now it has become an archetypal city of immense glass boxes in a sterilized center surrounded by an asteroid belt of beige residential subdivisions — sort of what Rochester, New York, would be like if it had an economy. The vast suburbs ooze out onto the prairie to the east, along with their complements of strip malls, power centers, car dealerships, and fry-pits, and on the west they bump up against the foothills of the Rockies.
What’s going on in Calgary, with new subdivisions of half-million dollar houses opening every month, is the North American tragedy in microcosm. Because every new suburban house built, every new Target store opened, every new parking lot paved, every highway widened will be a project in the service of a living arrangement with no future. It is a true madness that beats a path to historic tragedy.
Well put. To put Calgary’s appalling urban sprawl in some context, consider that, according to Stats Canada (PDF), the Calgary health region (a common measure for this sort of thing, apparently) has an average of 27 people per square kilometre. Vancouver’s is 4238.75. Heck, even south Vancouver Island is 139.