City Making in Paradise: Nine Decisions That Saved Vancouver.


240 pages
Contains Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55365-257-1
DDC 307.1'160971133





Reviewed by Ann Turner

Ann Turner is Financial and Budget Manager at the University of British
Columbia Library.


Former mayor of Vancouver and NDP premier of B.C. Mike Harcourt and former senior planner and manager for the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) Ken Cameron have collaborated to give readers an insider’s view into nine key decisions that influenced the development of present-day Vancouver. With political writer Sean Rossiter, known for his regular column “Twelfth & Cambie” in Vancouver magazine, they hammer home their message: “Regional leadership is critical if Greater Vancouver is to continue to enjoy its reputation as one of the world’s most livable cities.” The first decision, to establish the Lower Mainland Regional Planning Board in 1948, was sparked by catastrophic flooding of the Fraser River that involved the whole area. Decision number two was to save the Strathcona neighbourhood from demolition and highlight the importance of neighbourhoods in maintaining the city’s livability. The third decision, the establishment of the Agricultural Land Reserve, conserved valuable farmland and created a green belt surrounding the city. The appointment of Harry Lash as director of planning for the GVRD was the fourth decision. His approach to planning made the citizens key players in the process. The fifth decision, to host Expo 86, changed the world view of Vancouver forever. Choosing then mayor of Vancouver Gordon Campbell (currently premier of B.C.) to sell the GVRD’s vision statement “Creating our Future” to the constituent municipalities was the sixth decision. From it, the Livable Region Strategic Plan developed and was adopted, the seventh decision. The formation of the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, to facilitate planning effective transportation options for the region as a whole, was the eighth decision. The ninth was to establish the Union of B.C. Municipalities, buffering the interface between the powers of the municipal and provincial governments. With their first-hand knowledge of players and events, the authors communicate well the excitement of making and implementing these nine decisions that shaped Vancouver.


Harcourt, Mike, Ken Cameron, with Sean Rossiter., “City Making in Paradise: Nine Decisions That Saved Vancouver.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 30, 2024,