Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Talk Amongst Yourselves: The Great Canadian Oil Spill (Sprawl?)

I recently took a trip to the Canadian Rockies to enjoy the pure, spectacular pleasure of Mother Nature's creations as she meant them. Ski the glaciers. Spot moose. Or whatever people do up there.

Then I landed in Calgary. Oil may have paid for the incredible boom ... but it's not oil oozing over all the hills surrounding this former cow town.

It's houses. Scores of thousands of them. I've seen urban sprawl like this in the wastelands surrounding LA, Phoenix, and more recently Dirty Vegas, but it's absolutely shocking to see in sleepy western Canada.
And if you believe, as I do, that sprawl needs to be managed, it's downright sickening. Undeveloped land is becoming as rare a commodity as the black ooze underground. The externalities of greenfield development have never been properly priced. I've spent my entire adult life trying to balance my libertarian tendencies with my desire to see preservation of large swathes of unadulterated nature. Can development be controlled using natural mechanisms without infringing on the basic capitalist tenet ensuring the capitalist's prerogative with his assets?
So far, so bad. So I turn it over to you. What's the answer?

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