Vancouver, British Columbia is ranked among the most liveable cities in the world. The kind of political separation of central city and suburbs, so common in American metropolitan areas, is not part of this city's reality. In the Vancouver experience, strong direction has emerged from time to time to deal with spontaneous change in the public understanding of their region in its demographic, economic, political and cultural contexts.
The City of Vancouver, as it is known today, was formed through the amalgamation of the original city and the municipalities of Point Grey and South Vancouver in 1929. The upshot was a major transformation in the scale of the city, its institutions, and its landscape between 1929 and 1937, including the professionalization of the civil service and the institution of a non- partisan form of government. After World War II, thousands of new households were formed by those who had postponed families through depression and wartime.
These folks were on a materialistic binge, purchasing houses, appliances, furniture and cars. It was not surprising that they enthusiastically supported a civic administration that produced paved streets and roads, community centres and schools. By the 1950s many aspects of the civic landscape were being transformed, high-rise apartment towers were sprouting in the West End, new bridges and viaducts were constructed into the core, and in the suburbs, gravel roads were transformed by blacktop. Streetcars were replaced by trolley and diesel buses, permitting a massive upgrade of arterial streets. The city's engineering department was the primary agent of the enhancement of its infrastructure.
In the 1960s the consensus upon which the city had been governed broke down. To advise the city on development, U.S. consulting firms were hired and the cures spelled out: construct parkades at public expense to provide subsidized parking for shoppers, build...