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In Drumheller, Alberta, many assets are known, but the paths of these assets, their stories and their meanings, have become disconnected from governance. The Royal Tyrell Museum, Drumheller’s premier tourist attraction, and the nearby federal penitentiary, one of the largest employers in the region, are both federally owned and operated and often weighed very heavily against the town’s other potentially valuable assets: the “old” downtown and the many heritage sites from the coal mining days. These last two are well-known, but are typically viewed in terms of their former importance, as “old”, and therefore, as less valuable. While there is a Heritage Committee in place to determine heritage structures and preserve “old” assets as resources and tourist attractions, access to secure historical resource funding, provincial and federal, is hard. Moreover, a lack of consensus and a distrust of municipal involvement impedes a clear, goal-oriented plan for the development of these assets to form within the town itself. A reassessment of the value and potential of Drumheller’s under-utilized and, it may be argued, under-appreciated assets may bring to light ways in which they can be better integrated and better managed, and in turn, can further contribute to not only the tourism economy, but quality of life in town more generally.

Asset mapping and reinvention of the community are closely linked. This ought to be the case because strategy-building is, in the case of boom/bust places, an attempt at rewriting the community, of unhinging governance to un-make place identities and re-root them in alternative stories that highlight other aspects of the environment, the people, and the community’s histories. In other words, to identify and take advantage of different patterns of assets that can be connected to a new story, and which offer alternative development paths. We can expect this to be a tough and iterative process, where a community may test alternative stories and revised identities, potentially through scenario studies, heated debate, or other strategies. When strategies are used depends on the community. One way of thinking through and testing alternative stories is to deduce which assets become visible and valuable in these alternatives, and which possible courses of action are possible. How far one wants to go in the articulation of this iterative process, how many scenarios one wants to consider, how many stories, how many asset mapping exercises, how expert driven, how politicized, and how close to the existing place identity and commonplace asset mapping (likely centered around “The Resource”), depends, again, entirely on the community. Rewriting can be a matter of rather technical re-branding of the community, through cool and purposeful deliberation. Alternatively, this rewriting can be an unhinged working through of collective trauma, or an exposure of a collective fantasy of certainty, safety, and eternal prosperity. What is also possible, and what we have been arguing for all along: a realistic assessment of options and an informed choice for one strategy or another. 126

Boom and Bust: a guide

Profile for University of Alberta Extension

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

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