Development, Responsibility, and the Creation of Urban Hazard Risk

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Scholarly attention has recently shifted to the creation and redevelopment of urban hazardscapes. This body of work demonstrates how housing is deployed in close proximity to hazards, and how the attendant risks have been communicated—or not—to potential residents. Utilizing the case of Calgary, Alberta, this article uses interview data collected from flood-impacted residents, and looks at their perceptions of development and risk creation. The analyses focus on how people attribute responsibility for development in flood-prone areas, and their views on future development in these areas. Results reveal that many residents argued for more government regulations preventing new development in floodplains. Moreover, they viewed developers as narrow-interested capitalists who fail to protect public safety and work to conceal risk from the public. Others wished to see large structural mitigation projects—dams, levees, or floodwalls—or insisted that homebuyers be informed of flood risk prior to purchase. The article concludes by addressing the implications for scholarly work in urban sociology, environmental sociology, and the sociology of disaster—all of which grapple with tensions between place-making and risk creation.

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Haney, T. J. (2022). Development, Responsibility, and the Creation of Urban Hazard Risk. City and Community, 21(1), 21–41.

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