A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘west edmonton mall

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Kingston, Town of the Blue Mountains, Québec City, Calgary, Edmonton

  • Kingston will be hosting an open house discussion on the legacies of its most famous resident, John A. MacDonald. Global News reports.
  • The Toronto Star reports on a beach and land ownership controversy in the Georgian Bay resort Town of the Blue Mountains, here.
  • CBC Montreal reports on the closure of the Québec City church Très-Saint-Sacrement, after just under a century of operation, here.
  • Cost increases for the Green Line LRT in Calgary may lead to route changes. Global News reports.
  • The Brick has taken over the space of Sears in the West Edmonton Mall, offering hope to shopping malls of survival. Global News reports.

[URBAN NOTE] “Al-Shabaab and the lure of West Edmonton Mall”

Colby Cosh at MacLean’s writes about the lure of the West Edmonton Mall, for everyone.

When I was a young man, there were two things you would expect people to mention when you were travelling abroad and you told people you were from Edmonton: the glorious Stanley Cup-winning Edmonton Oilers and West Edmonton Mall. Nowadays, of course, everything’s totally different. Now when you travel and mention Edmonton, you expect to hear about the comically rancid Edmonton Oilers and West Edmonton Mall.

WEM was named in a video released on Feb. 23 by the struggling Somali terror group al-Shabaab, which has an unstable affiliation with al-Qaeda. The group is best known for masterminding the September 2013 four-man swarm attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Those killers took at least 63 lives, including those of two Canadians. The new video suggests, rather in the manner of mafiosi, that the Westgate attack could be reproduced at Western megamalls like WEM and the Mall of America—both of which are owned by Edmonton’s Ghermezian family, and both of which are in communities that have attracted significant numbers of Somali refugees.

This last part is probably not a coincidence. Big shopping malls and refugees are attracted to a place by some of the same factors. If you have to flee your home and start over in a new language, with your credentials almost irretrievably left behind, you’re looking for a resource-extraction economy that’s slightly inhospitable—a place with structurally tight labour markets that will reward the will to work hard with a high disposable income—i.e., the kind of income people will spend in a nice, cozy, winter-proof megamall.

I have worried a little about the mall—if you’re from Edmonton, that’s all you need to say to specify it—during the period of trendy freelance Muslim terror. Naturally, I wouldn’t let this stop me from visiting the mall with the usual frequency. Which, meaning no disrespect, is darn near never. Like a lot of people from the Edmonton suburbs, I got my fill of it, and then some, in adolescence. But nobody should be afraid to visit: You are surely taking a bigger risk using a stepladder to change a light bulb.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 26, 2015 at 11:23 pm