Mill Creek War Room Communique #4 — An Edmontonian Anticipates Disaster

The city of Edmonton is already contracting. Friends are talking about losing their jobs. Strangers plot their escape from Alberta’s borders. The young are the first to leave. What future does dystopia hold for them?

Academics worry about whether their department will be merged with incompatible subject matter. Or worse, will it simply be erased?

Downsizing is the order of the day.

A local butcher tells me this is where Jason Kenney buys his fine cuts of meat. And then he whispers into my ear his wry worry that one day another client will grab one of his professionally sharpened knives and apply it to the throat of the corruptly-selected widely-hated premier of the province. Fits of rage permit this kind of tongue-in-cheek speculation. For such risky speculation, expect a visit soon from UCP war room spies. And perhaps a trip to their re-education camp for an application of biblical tourniquets to dampen and cool your thought.

Across the river on the south side of Edmonton, the major corner on Whyte Avenue at Calgary Trail abandoned small business owners more than a decade ago. Now the Dairy Queen is gone too. Cheap soft ice cream for a sunny summer day replaced by a pay day loan company advertising money for free.

All that is left on the street are bars, bars, bars, some restaurants, coffee shops, chain stores, a bare bones Army & Navy, a few banks,and several expensive shoe stores. The latter held up by better sales in distant city branches.

Lianne Faulder one of the few remaining senior journalists writes the food column for the major Edmonton newspaper, now a PostMedia right-wing rag. She pens a touching column about her mother’s dementia and the closing down of Holt Renfrew. This upscale Canadian department store and restaurant is now situated in Manulife Centre just down the street from the original defunct Hudson’s Bay building. Holt’s opened in 1950 “after the Second World War and the discovery of oil at Leduc No. 1. Edmonton, at the time, was booming.” With the departure of the Holt’s anchor store neighbouring Manulife businesses will find it hard to eke out an existence. Zenari’s, the neighbouring cafe, disappeared a while ago. Maybe another discount Winner’s will move in there too like they did on Whyte Avenue after Chapters abandoned this location a few decades after having eliminated all the small business bookstores on Whyte.

With the departure of Holt’s, we can chart the decline in high-paying jobs in the oil patch that are disappearing due to downsizing and the mechanization of the workforce, along with the departure of oil corporations from the province. The coming decimation of the civil service and the shrinking of post secondary institutional budgets will have their very own destructive effects too. All kinds of businesses will be affected. As my hairdresser said to me the other day – you fire 750 nurses and you cut a lot of hairdressers.

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