2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

Mary Louise Adams

Queen's University
Sport facilities vs the environment: Struggles over greenspace in a small city
Sport facilities vs the environment: Struggles over greenspace in a small city
This paper analyses a conflict between sport facilities and the environment in the planning process for a large piece of ‘natural’ waterfront land in a working-class neighbourhood in a small Canadian city. Debates over the development of the site as parkland bring to light the usual array of class interests that compete in an urban context – residents, developers, planners, politicians. But this proposed parkland is also of interest to environmental advocates, who see its potential, if left relatively wild, for mitigating climate change and promoting biodiversity. The park is also of interest to local Indigenous people, who see it as an ecological buffer to one of the most significant Indigenous sites in the region. In an era of impending climate catastrophe and mass extinction, what makes it possible for city planners to see sport facilities, like fields and courts as a reasonable use of this land? The paper identifies the prominence of sport in this planning process as a reflection of class politics (gentrification) and a feature of anthropocentric, instrumental, Western approaches to land. Following Val Plumwood, the paper argues for an approach to land use that has justice for non-humans at its core. How would proposals for this piece of land be different if ecological principles and a decolonial perspective were prioritized?