Dumping like a state: An environmental history of the City of Vancouver Landfill in Delta, 1958–1981

Date created: 
Environmental history
Discard studies
High modernism
City of Vancouver
City of Delta

In 1966, the City of Vancouver opened a new landfill in Burns Bog, in the nearby municipality of Delta. This is an environmental history of its creation and first sixteen years of operation. Although the landfill resembled other high modernist projects in postwar Canada, this thesis argues it is best understood as an example of “mundane modernism.” The landfill’s planning and operation aligned with broader contemporary American and Canadian practices of cost-effective waste disposal. It was an unspectacular project to which Deltans offered little initial resistance. Officials therefore had no need to demonstrate technoscientific expertise to manufacture citizens' consent. Yet the landfill soon posed environmental nuisances and hazards to Delta’s residents, including leachate, the liquid waste a landfill produces. Although Deltans mounted some protests, the mutually beneficial relationship between the municipalities of Delta and Vancouver protected the landfill’s operators from the consequences of mismanagement and allowed that mismanagement to continue throughout the 1960s and 1970s. This thesis suggests that further scholarly attention be paid to the history of solid waste management in Canada, and especially to specific sites such as the Burns Bog landfill.

Document type: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Tina Adcock
Joseph Taylor III
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.