Is Gentrification the new Colonialism? Perspectives from Political Geography (Josh Hazelbower)

This research examines how enduring colonial attitudes and practices treat land in Canada as a financial instrument, at the expense of its economic functions, including the provision of affordable housing. This research further considers how such practices cause land use inefficien-cies, pushing development to sprawl outward into Indigenous land not yet under colonisation.

Aspects of these problems were identified long ago, in the era of Canada’s confederation (1867-1871), and were even then widely criticized for creating socio-economic inequality (George 1884). This earlier reckoning became known as the “land crisis” (Lough 2012). My re-search builds on a growing body of work that identifies today’s housing crises, and growing ine-quality, as a land crisis (England 2018; Levine 1993). Such research has proven successful in identifying policy alternatives that reduce inequality and and improve housing affordability (Ryan-Collins et al. 2017).

Despite these successes, no PhD has yet dealt with the articulation of historical and con-temporary meanings and facets of land crises in Canada in a systematic way. As Canada must both answer increasing calls to give Indigenous peoples their land back (Scobie et al. 2021), and experiences one of the worst housing crises in the ‘developed’ world, this work is very timely. Although western Canada is taken as a case study, the methods used are widely applicable to other parts of Canada and elsewhere.


England, Christopher. “Land Value Taxation in Vancouver: Rent‐Seeking and the Tax Revolt.” American Journal of Economics and Sociology 77, no. 1 (2018): 59-94.

George, Henry. Progress and poverty: An inquiry into the cause of industrial depressions, and of increase of want with increase of wealth, the remedy. W. Reeves, 1884.

Levine, Gregory J. “The Single Tax in Montreal and Toronto, 1880 to 1920: successes, failures and the transformation of an idea.” American Journal of Economics and Sociology 52, no. 4 (1993): 417-432.

Ryan-Collins, Josh, Toby Lloyd, and Laurie Macfarlane. Rethinking the economics of land and housing. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017.

Scobie, Matthew, Glenn Finau, and Jessica Hallenbeck. “Land, land banks and land back: Ac-counting, social reproduction and Indigenous resurgence.” Environment and Planning A: Econ-omy and Space

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