Simon Savinel

The discovery of oil at Leduc in 1947 was a shaping event in the history of Alberta. On top of profoundly changing the economy of the province, it also had a major effect on the profile of the cities that compose it. Calgary is a perfect illustration of these rapid changes. From a relatively quiet town whose economic growth mostly relied on ranching and farming, it became the center of a booming industry, attracting investments and people from all around the country then progressively the world. Over the next 70 years, it saw an exponential growth in population but also in size, with its land area being multiplied by 8 to reach a staggering 820 square kilometers, making it larger than Toronto or Montreal, while being less populated than those two cities.

The rapid pace of Calgary’s expansion raised some questions from academics and concerned citizen, who described it as a perfect example of urban sprawl, deemed it unsustainable from the human, economic and environmental point of view, and declared it incompatible with the Climate Emergency proclaimed in 2021 by the City Council. Proponents of this growth strategy, who argue that it is the best way to keep the city affordable, contest this denomination. And with the recent return of this topic to the spotlight with the approval of new communities and budget discussions, the debate can feel confusing.

Calgary: A Sprawling Obsession is a podcast series in 3 episodes that aims at exploring the question of urban sprawl in Calgary. For this project, I decided to discuss the threats associated to this phenomenon from three different points of view: the threats towards Calgary inhabitants, the threats towards biodiversity and the threats towards the cultural heritage of Indigenous people. This will be accomplished through interviews with different subject matter experts. The relation that Calgary has with the land and nature that surrounds it might be one of the most crucial existential questions that will shape its future, so I hope that this podcast will be a useful and constructive contribution to this debate.

The podcast will be available on all the usual platforms that you probably already use to listen to your other podcasts! You can see all the options for listening on my LinkTree by clicking here.

Finally, if you like my work and would like to discuss or be notified of my future podcasting projects, I just created an account on Mastodon, so feel free to follow me there!

About Simon

Simon grew up in the French countryside, before visiting Alberta for the first time in 2012 and moving in permanently in 2015. He has always been interested in conservation and sustainability questions, which has initially been materialized by different positions in the environmental sector. Over the past few years, he decided to take a more direct approach through activism and volunteering for organization such as CPAWS, the Calgary Climate Hub, the Pembina Institute or the Alberta Wilderness Association. In parallel, he got into podcasts and audio drama over 10 years ago, as a listener as well as a creator. His project for the Canadian Wilderness Stewardship Program is the fruit of those two passions.