Student: Vincent Bourassa
Advisor: Martin Bressani
Studio: Directed Research Project
Year/Term: Fall 2016
Historically, logging and mining in Canada have fulfilled the role of opening up the country’s hostile north which has, in turn, had a bolstering effect on the southern urban centers where the vast majority of Canadian workforce continue to live. However, in the 1970’s, rail, agricultural, logging and mining reliant communities were affected by the slower GDP growth in the western world, lowering overall demand for natural resources. Decline in the Canadian periphery is the consequence of economic transformations which ironically are not due to an under-performing primary sector of the economy, but to new levels of productivity which drastically reduced the number of workers required to extract the same amount of raw material. This situation was aggravated by a shift in federal cutbacks in public employment and social programs. Since most of the wealth is generated by the main – often single – industry, the commercial structure and services of the city are directly influenced by its performance. Any major fluctuation to the latter could potentially trigger a retracted collapse, and so it has been the case in Baie-Comeau.
Conclusion The version of Baie-Comeau as observed today won’t last for more than one generation simply because it wasn’t intended to. It is more accurate to read its present condition as a phase in the history of an ever-changing urban body. Moreover, other similar settlements on the coast fell into ruin so quickly that even a little neglect reveals the provisional nature of these cities.