Between Decline and Vitality: Growing Old in
Downtown, Edmonton

Key Terms: aging; difference; disability; city life; temporality; space

Lead: Yvonne Wallace

Committee Member: Cassandra Hartblay

About the Project

In her PhD project, Yvonne asks the question, what is it like to be ‘old’ in a neighbourhood that is trying to make itself ‘new’? She is interested in how representations, practices and narratives of time in the city contribute to the experience and construction of old age, and how within this context older urban residents are included, able to participate, and find belonging in a neighbourhood that is revitalizing. Drawing on relational theories in disability, environmental gerontology, and urban geography, she explores the co-constitutive relationship between the aging body and the city, and the possibilities and limitations at their intersection. 

Against perspectives of later life as either a time of decline or successful vitality, a commitment of Yvonne’s project is to let the difference of old age stand. This leaves open the possibility that a key to aging well in the city is not to compensate for the differential time of old age so that older adults can ‘keep up’ with the (younger and faster) pace of city life. Rather the time of old age might be used as an integral part of city building. For example, rather than a deficit, how might a slower pace be viewed as a critical part of healthy aging and well-being? And how might cities, through urban design, policies and programs, support this way of being? 

The FLOURISH Collective is supported in part by funding from the New Frontiers in Research Fund,
the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the University of Toronto Connaught Fund