Saturday, February 27, 2010
Google maps link
I just got done watching a formatted version of Malls-R-Us on CBC TV. This Documentary came out last year and talks about the evolution of the malls in North America and around the world, it also goes into some detail about the feelings of users and what they are looking for, the mystical properties as well as what is left after the malls have been leapfrogged over. I recommend you try to catch a viewing of the full film, this was about half of the actual film, so I would like to see the whole film at some point.
I found it interesting, nothing new, and more of a nostalgic feeling for the loss of our malls. A feeling I don’t share in the least, I am glad they are dieing, and really, they can’t die fast enough. The picture I used on here is the North Country Shopping Center, and is not yet listed on the deadmalls website, however Champlain Center South is and looking at the area we have 3+ dead malls that tried to take advantage of the Canadians and their tax free shopping weekends. It is officially no more, it was destroyed last fall and now all that remains is an empty parking lot, a small bowling alley/bar a new theatre complex, and a billiards club across the street. The theatre is actually doing pretty well, considering the Regal we have in the main mall area is literally decrepit, but in a way so is that mall, despite the new Target stores and Best Buy.
I think its good for us to look upon the mall and what it brought to this country, and what it encouraged. As a planner (not officially yet) and as somebody who deeply cares about environmental effects, I hate mall development, I hate chain based shopping developments, and I hate car-centered monstrosities to our failed version of capitalism. Maybe I go to far in my dislike, but in the end, they have done little good for few people and have destroyed many, many communities in their rein of terror.
With that I take deep offense to an individual interviewed and focused on in the film, he is a developer in Canada that developed the West Edmonton Mall and is looking to develop and in the process of developing a huge mega "green retail community complex" outside of Montreal. His goal is to destroy one of the last sections of pristine forested land around Montreal and put up this eco-village/shopping experience with the goal of being the largest green development.
I literally got pissed as he talked about this; this is a bastardization of the term green, of the term sustainable, and the term eco. A shopping complex can not be green, ever, by definition, especially one designed in a pristine environmental sensitive forest (listed as such by the government) with man mad trout streams so "condo residents can launch a fly out their window and eat the trout for dinner” its pure bullshit is what it is. I realize I may be a bit more radical when it comes to development then many of the people in the field I wish to go into (planning, even if the focus is transportation) however, I have a firm belief that pretty much all new development is bad unless its done a certain way. If all products sold here were manufactured within 100, hell even 1000 miles of this mall, if parking were metered, if public transport and bike use were heavily encouraged, if the residents could get fresh local produce, then maybe it would be a better option, but not in one of the last pristine environments around Montreal. Nothing that is built on land with wetlands and that is ecologically sensitive can be green in any way.
Call me an idealist, yes I am, but I cant stand especially when developers call their project green, no its not green its like everything else with a couple trees.
There is no such thing as a sprawl green development; there is no such thing as a sustainable commercial experience where you can choose from millions of products and many hundreds of stores. There is no amount of mitigation that can truly offset the effects of developments like this.
Unfortunately I only see one thing stopping this mass consumerism masking as green, that is peak oil and energy and resource requirements, its the one thing I truly hold out hope for, knowing that once we start paying the true price for things that developments like this will be as deserted as the town around Chernobyl.
There is hope, but man things like this make me evaluate how much real progress we have made and what we have to deal with still.