In the latter half of the twentieth century, industrial pioneers came to British Columbia with grand plans for resource development projects, many of which never materialized. Unbuilt Environments argues that these kinds of projects have lasting impacts on the natural and human environment – even when they fail. Jonathan Peyton examines a range of archival materials in five case studies. Looking at a closed asbestos mine, an abandoned rail grade, an imagined series of hydroelectric installations, a failed LNG export facility, and a transmission line, Peyton finds that past development failures continue to shape contemporary resource conflicts in the region.
Jonathan Peyton is an assistant professor in the Department of Environment and Geography at the University of Manitoba. His work has appeared in Geoforum, Antipode, the Journal of Historical Geography, and Environment and History.
Unbuilt Environments is an enthralling book … [and] a great contribution to the emerging interdisciplinary narrative on resource development conflicts in northwest British Columbia, a region that is currently the site of intense mining exploration and controversy over energy projects. Drawing on fieldwork throughout northwest British Columbia and on research which is both eloquent and honest, Unbuilt Environments is a practical, accessible, and reliable resource from a respected emerging researcher. I strongly recommend this book for the expert and non-expert.
Unbuilt Environments provides an even-handed discussion of development in a region that remains relatively aloof from capital investment and integration into the global economy.
Jonathan Peyton by bringing to light the history of these spasmodic industrial developments in the north has done an immense public service. His research is comprehensive, his analysis precise, his tone moderate and dispassionate. Indeed, there are moments when the reader, overwhelmed by Peyton’s revelations, the scale of the corruption, the extent of the folly, the aggregate waste of tax payers’ wealth, almost wishes for a more emotional reaction from the author. Yet the great strength of the book is its restraint, for the facts and history alone provide sufficient indictment.