Thesis Defence: James StrongExport this event to calendar

Friday, May 1, 2015 — 9:30 AM EDT
Of the thesis entitled: NO MAN’S LAND : deconstructing the company camp in Canada’s Oil Sands
 

Abstract:

For nearly fifty years, commercial development in the Canadian Oil Sands has been the generator of a population explosion in northern Alberta.  Oil sector workers seeking stable employment and high wages have been drawn to the region for decades; often with the intention of re-settling permanently (or semi-permanently) in local communities near industrial activities.  These population increases have long been the driver of urban (and sub-urban) development in Fort McMurray; which has grown to become a fully functioning industrial town of nearly 100 thousand permanent residents.

While many consider Fort McMurray a paragon of the contemporary ‘single industry’ (or company) town, an exclusive academic focus on ‘city-building’ has failed to acknowledge the increasing relevance of the company work camp in accommodating perpetual population increases.  Indeed, statistical and demographic data – gathered by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo – has revealed a trend prioritizing the deployment of company camps in lieu of permanent improvements to the existing urban construct.

Overwhelmingly, the camp has been characterized as the natural consequence of industrial expansion: as resource extraction operations advance farther into the Canadian hinterland, the centripetal urban model (i.e. Fort McMurray) is rendered increasingly obsolete.  The expanding industrial footprint has necessitated an alternate extra-urban project.  This assumption - that the camp is inevitable - has severely limited the ongoing public discourse surrounding contemporary working accommodations, and has contributed to a perception of the camp as ‘benign’ or ‘passive’ when – in fact – the opposite is true.

This thesis aims to assess the current scope and scale of camp deployment through a careful accounting of individual accommodations sites while simultaneously exploring the organizational prerogatives of camp deployment.  The camp – as extra-urban paradigm – is linked to an explicit economic agenda which has successfully institutionalized a ‘nomadic,’ ‘transient,’ or otherwise ‘precarious’ working regime on what is arguably Canada’s most significant industrial project.
 

The examining committee is as follows:

Supervisor:

Committee Members:

Adrian BlackwellUniversity of Waterloo

Val Rynnimeri, University of Waterloo
 
Robert Jan Van Pelt, University of Waterloo  
 
 

External Reader:

Dr. Angela Carter, University of Waterloo

 



The committee has been approved as authorized by the Graduate Studies Committee.


The Defence Examination will take place:  

Friday May 1, 2015
9:30AM

Architecture Room 2026  

A copy of the thesis is available for perusal in ARC 2106A.

Location 
ARC - School of Architecture
Room 2026
7 Melville Street South

Cambridge, ON N1S 2H4
Canada

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