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How the layout of our region changed following Expo 86

Last Updated May 5, 2016 at 10:18 am PST

(John Streit, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Former city councillor says the development of False Creek had a ripple effect on neighbouring municipalities

The addition of the Skytrain made the region more attractive to those who wanted to live here and not just visit

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – This week marks 30 years since Expo 86 opened in Vancouver. So, how much has the city changed since 22 million people from around the world came here?

Former City Councillor Gordon Price breaks down the original vision for the area around False Creek after the fair. “It goes back actually to the 1970s. I think you can trace some of the ideas that ultimately got expressed in the Concord Pacific development into a plan that Marathon Realty had back then. As the city was developing, it was so sure and they thought, ‘You know, we could do a similar mixed use residential development at significant higher densities and some of it looks eerily like what’s there now.”

And Price adds there were broader effects on developments and real estate in Metro Vancouver. He thinks what happened are planners and political leaders saw the interest along the shore of False Creek and felt they wanted a piece of that too.

“If you go to places like Port Moody, Coquitlam or Surrey and their regional town centres, you can see many similar ideas that were used in the design of False Creek being incorporated into their centres as well.”

“When I look back at the fair itself, I think that what it did for a lot of people is it introduced them to what we would call ‘urbanism,’ the idea that a dense city would primarily focus on people moving by feet. That we introduced into the city through Expo and took some of those ideas — what people said they liked about Expo — and tried to apply it to the permanent city where people are really going to live and not just visit. I think we were able to take much of that and provide something that certainly proved popular in the market and did become the basis for other parts of the region and other cities. Everywhere from Dubai to Dallas have incorporated ideas that, you could say, were rooted in what they saw in False Creek.”

LISTEN: Anchors Brock Hunter and Alison Bailey speak with former City Councillor Gord Price


One of the other additions to the region thanks to Expo 86 was the SkyTrain, which Price feels has greatly shaped our region.

“I think you could say it has had more of an effect than the fair itself. We got Canada Place, we definitely got some benefits after the fair, but nothing matches the Expo Line for shaping the growth of the city and how we move through it. It was a really exciting and new technology. This was really the first time that anyone had built an automated transit system.”

Price adds Expo 86 happened at a time when we were just coming out of a recession just a few years prior. “Expo opened with a real sense of optimism and possibility. We had followed through on our intent with the Expo Line to build transit, instead of freeways. At the time, it allowed for an investment in the region that allowed us to fulfill our own goals and expectations. This wasn’t anything that was imported… it was homegrown.”