World Renowned Urban Planner
Alain Bertaud, Vancouver Visit 2023.

Media from Alain Bertaud’s Visit.

The most influential urban planner in the world today, Alain Bertaud, visited Vancouver in September 2023 as a guest of Global Civic. He brought a spotlight on many of our urban planning practises that he critiques in his internationally acclaimed book “Order Without Design”. He urges planners to integrate their work with the scientific understanding of cities including Complexity Theory and Urban Economics.

Media from the Alain Bertaud Visit

The Daily Hive: Written by Kenneth Chan

Vancouver Sun Op-Ed written by Alain Bertaud

Business in Vancouver with Kirk LaPointe

Conversations that Matter with Stu McNish

The Hub with Geoff Russ

For fifty years, Metro Vancouver’s official policy is the Regional Town Centre model and all planning efforts are based on this. Unfortunately, Bertaud explains that even though it is popular in Regional Plans around the world, this model “only exists in the minds of planners” and does not conform to what we know about how cities actually work. He urges planners not to forget that cities are fundamentally Labour Markets which are constantly trying to expand.

Our model is based on dividing the region into smaller labour markets where people live and work in their Regional Town Centres. This goes directly against the fundamental reason for cities and one of its most powerful forces.

Alain also explained why Master Plans are inappropriate and indeed, are “obsolete” for cities and regions. It is a fundamental error to imagine cities as just like buildings, but more complex. Cities must constantly monitor key measurements and planners must quickly respond when there are symbols of distress. Vancouver has spent four years on its Master Plan. This has taken valuable staff time away from the urgent needs that planner could have been working on and there are still not any buildings that are being built based on that Master Plan.

Bertaud also made interesting observations that can often only be made by people observing from the outside. He noted that in most of the world, affordable housing is when the Price Income Ratio of a region is less than 4. Vancouver’s ratio is over 12. He thought it was odd that in Vancouver, affordable housing is defined as subsidized housing.

Bertaud noted that many cities have up to 90% of the land within a 25 km radius of their downtown core available for development. Because of ocean, mountains, the US border, and the Agricultural Land Reserve, only 30% of our land is available for development. And yet our zoning schedules force homebuyers to consume more land than they would want to if they could have a choice. He sees this as incredibly harmful to the well-being of our city which is mandated because of zoning.

He also suggests looking into the assumptions of the Agricultural Land Reserve. Economic theory predicts that forces will prevent healthy farms from existing and that the resulting struggles will result in worse farms and a worse city. Indeed, this looks like what has happened in our region. Land uses cannot be willed into being. Underlying forces must be understood if we want good policy.

Bertaud gained much support from the many people he met. He was especially welcomed by younger people whose lives and families are being harmed by some of the most highest relative house prices in the world. Also excited by his visit are those who advocate for homeless people. They are also casualties of our past planning policies. Alain has agreed to work with local urbanists to advocate for healthier urban policies and a more dynamic, affordable city and region.

Below are some highlights of his visit.

After arriving in Vancouver on September 12th Alain Bertaud was welcomed to Vancouver by supporters at Bridges Restaurant on Granville Island.

Bertaud walks 6 kilometres every morning. We decided to maintain this regimen by providing him with a walker who would introduce him to different parts of the downtown Peninsula each day.

Sebastian Zien walked with him through the West End. Brendan Dawe introduced him to Gastown, the Downtown Eastside, and Chinatown. Danny Oleksiuk gave him an experience of the seawall and Yaletown. Darren Stone and Jens von Bergmann gave him an extended tour with the help of a Cycling Without Age bicycle, covering everything from the Olympic Village to Kitsilano on the southside of False Creek. Darren pedalled the Cycling Without Age Trishaw while Jens talked about the  False Creek South, Senakw Development and Kitsilano.

Alain Bertaud met UBC planning, architecture and real estate students organizied by Leslie Van Duzer and toured the university developments thanks to Carole Jolly and Jens von Bergmann.

Alain went to Oh Boy Productions studio and was interviewed by Stu McNish for Conversations That Matter.

Meeting at Vancouver City Hall with Planners, Engineers and Councillors.
Met with municipal politicians at the Union of BC Municipalities. Councillor, Dylan Kruger from Delta.

Met with Kerry Bonnis for a tour of Granville Street. Met up with Stanley Dee for a discussion on development on Granville Street.  Dinner at Cold Chai with Phil Boname and former City Planner Mike McNaney hosted by Stanley Dee.

Meeting with the Chief Planners of all the municipalities of Metro Vancouver planners.

Alain met with Professor and Architect historian Robert Walsh who was visiting from Ohio to be in Vancouver to research his book and attend Alain’s presentation.

Alain Bertaud was the keynote speaker of an audience of 300 at the Alain Bertaud Salon September 19th, 2023.

We are consulting with Alain to come up with a strategy to nudge our region and its municipalities into a healthier urban development approach. Some of the ideas are to advocate for economically literate senior planners when there is a hiring process under way, short videos on better planning processes, an annual report on the state of urban planning in the region, etc.

Alain Bertaud spoke to our Vancouver audience about his experience planning cities around the world.

A video presentation of his talk with be added here once it is complete. Thank you for your interest in this event. See images below.

Join us september 19th, 2023 for an Evening with Alain Bertaud

World famous urban planner Alain Bertaud shares his insights and advice for Vancouver.

Alain Bertaud has spent his life observing and advising fifty cities around the world. These experiences have lead him to write the internationally acclaimed

 “Order Without Design”. What does he have to say about Vancouver?

Join us to gain insights on addressing our affordability problem and creating a more dynamic and innovative city.

There are a limited number of dinner tickets available for this event.

Talks on Vancouver’s challenging issues.

The Public Salon Think Tank Series on Wednesday Oct 26th, 2022. addressed some of the most challenging problems of our day. Affordable housing, overdose crisis, the DTES, reconciliation with indigenous led economic success and telling the positive side of our history in British Columbia.

Michael Goldberg – Economist / Former Dean at Sauder Business School
Bob Williams – Planner / Author / Public Figure
Judy Graves – Homeless Advocate
Dr. Scott MacDonald – Addictions Expert
Dr. Julian Somers – Mental Health and Addictions Researcher
Chief Gibby Jacob – Hereditary Squamish Chief
Ellis Ross – Former Haisla Chief / MLA Skeena

Join us on Wednesday October 26th for the Public Salon Think Tank Series 

6 speakers will present their ideas on how to address challenging problems. These include the price of housing, mental illness and addiction, reconciliation versus decolonization and great reasons to be proud of British Columbia.

These are ideas that are being considered for the Global Civic Think Tank reports and recommendations.

Let’s make our communities better together!
Speakers include:

Michael Goldberg – Economist / Former Dean of Sauder Business School
Judy Graves – Homeless Advocate
Chief Gibby Jacob – Squamish Hereditary Chief
Dr. Scott MacDonald – Addictions Expert
Ellis Ross – Former Chief of the Haisla Nation & MLA for Skeena
Julian Somers – Professor of Health Science / Addiction
Bob Williams – Planner, Author, Political Figure

Doors open at 6:30 pm for Presentations
Musical Performance from 7:00 – 7:30 pm
Presentations from 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Lobby is open for discussion from 9:00 – 10:00 pm
Dinner with the speakers and other guests begins at 6:00 pm

Judy Graves – Homeless Advocate
Photo credit – Sarah Murray Photographer

Judy Graves created the Homeless Outreach Project which connects people who are homeless to housing, community services and income assistance. In the program’s first 2 years of application more than 700 people found housing. The homeless outreach project is found in 50 communities across the province. Judy worked in the DTES from 1979 – 2013.

 In the spring of 2013 Judy Graves retired from the city of Vancouver where she was the homeless advocated for 20 years.

Judy was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from UBC in 2009 and a Doctor of Divinity from the Vancouver School of Theology in 2013, Freedom of the city in 2014 and an honourary Doctorate Degree from SFU in June 2015.

Bob Williams – Planner, Author, Political Figure
Photo Credit –

Bob Williams worked as a town planning consultant. He served as an alderman for Vancouver from 1964 to 1966. From 2004 to 2006, he was a member of the Vancouver City Planning Commission, serving as its chair in 2005. He served in the provincial cabinet as Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources from 1972 to 1975.

Bob Williams just published his book, “Using Power Well: Bob Williams and The Making of British Columbia

Dr. Scott MacDonald – Addictions expert

Dr. Scott MacDonald is the physician lead at the Providence Crosstown Clinic which was the site of NAOMI and SALOME. Dr. MacDonald and his team are the first physicians in the world to prescribe hydromorphone for the treatment of substance use disorder.

Ellis Ross – Former Haisla Chief

Ellis Ross is the former Chief of the Haisla Nation and current MLA of Skeena since 2017. Ellis was inducted into the Order of BC in 2014. 

Michael Goldberg – Economist & Former Dean of Sauder Business School

Dr. Goldberg was Chief Academic Officer of Universitas 21 Global in Singapore before which he was Associate Vice President International at the University of British Columbia and the HR Fullerton Professor of Urban Land Policy in the Sauder School of Business. Dr Goldberg was Dean of the Sauder School of Business (1991-1997) serving on the UBC Endowment Committee

He has written widely about the globalisation of real estate markets especially in Asia and North America.  

Dr Goldberg was instrumental in aiding Shanghai Jiao Tong University in becoming a member of Universitas 21 a global consortium of leading universities in Europe, North America, and Asia.  

Dr. Goldberg was a member of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) team that visited China to develop the highly successful China-CIDA business school ties among 8 key Chinese universities and 8 key Canadian universities.  

His international links and experience were greatly extended during his three years as Associate Vice President International at UBC where he was responsible for building both academic and broader links in UBC’s focus areas of Asia and Europe.  He was asked to become Chief Academic Officer of Universitas 21 Global the online graduate school founded by Universitas 21 universities and he relocated to Singapore from January 2005 through March 2007, travelling extensively to visit the Universitas 21 universities in Asia, Europe and North America.

Chief Gibby Jacob – Squamish Hereditary Chief

Copied from For Our Future Website
Chief Gibby Jacob, whose ancestral name is Kákeltn siyám, carries the title of hereditary Chief and is a member of the Squamish Nation located in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Chief Gilbert “Gibby” Jacob is one of the most influential Native leaders in Canada. He is a man with quiet power and was twice recognized as a significant member of society and honoured with Vancouver Magazine’s Power 50 Award. The Squamish Nation with the leadership of Chief Gibby Jacob will be worth $5 Billion from business revenue, royalties and real estate assets by 2021.

Chief Gibby Jacob helped broker the deal that established the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, as well as the 2010 Olympic land Legacy and amongst other Legacies that resulted in the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations gaining several tracts of land in the Whistler community. 

Chief Jacob’s knowledge and experience provides direction and liaison duties for special projects and files. This includes negotiations between the various levels of government (Ministerial, Deputy Minister levels), stakeholders, partners and the Nation on projects dealing with natural resources, accommodation, and consultation.

Dr. Julian Somers

Dr. Julian M Somers is a clinical psychologist and specialist in addiction since 1987. His body of research addresses harm reduction and recovery from addiction across the lifespan. He has led numerous large studies investigating ways of helping people who experience harmful addictions, mental illness, homelessness, and involvement with corrections. Dr. Somers is a clinical practitioner, a Distinguished SFU Professor, and Director of the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (CARMHA).

On September 20, 2021 in Vancouver BC Canada, Alain Bertaud participated on the Big Screen at the Vancouver Playhouse with 6 respected local urbanists. This was organized in anticipation of his upcoming visit in 2022 and to help develop ideas to recommend to the city, regional and provincial governments.

Alain Bertaud is the former Chief Urban Planner of the World Bank and author of the internationally acclaimed “Order Without Design”. He began his career working on the le Corbusier designing of Chandigarh, capital of Punjab. He has worked for 50 cities around the world and has been a resident urban planner for 7. He has deep experience and knowledge of how cities work and is currently a Fellow at the Marron Institute of New York City.

The 6 Vancouver Urbanists are data visualizationist Jens von Bergmann, UBC SCARP Planning Professor Julia Harten, Squamish First Nation Leader Chris Lewis, SFU Beedie School Professor Andrey Pavlov, researcher and historian Wendy Waters and Urban Planner Michael Mortensen. MC is Sam Sullivan former Vancouver Mayor and Minister for Municipalities of the British Columbia Government.

Alain Bertaud Urban Planner and Author of “Order Without Design”
Jens von Bergmann Data Visualizationist
Wendy Waters Real Estate Researcher
Chris Lewis Syeta’xtn Squamish First Nation Leader
Andrey Pavlov SFU Professor of Finance
Julia Harten Professor at UBC SCARP
Michael Mortensen Urban Planner

Global Civic Is Exploring Variations Of The
Public Salon

Our first themed Public Salon is about the challenge of bringing together urban planning with urban economics.

The Public Salon on September 20th will be themed around the ideas of internationally acclaimed planner Alain Bertaud. Six respected local urbanists will engage will Alain and his ideas in the lead up to Alain’s visit to Vancouver next year. 

Alain is the former chief Urban Planner with the World Bank and author of internationally acclaimed “Order Without Design”. He began his career working for le Corbusier designing Chandigarh Capital of Punjab. Alain Bertaudwill share his insights into making a great city with special attention to the Vancouver context.

You will see the data visualization of Jens von Bergmann, Indigenous insights from Squamish Nations Leader Chris Lewis, insights from UBC SCARP Planning Professor Julia Harten, economics from SFU’s Andrey Pavlov, Wendy Water’s Real Estate perspective and thoughts from City Planner Michael Mortensen. 

The ideas of Alain Bertaud could lead Vancouver to be a more affordable, prosperous and vibrant city that evolves organically in response to human needs. 

There will be 5 online workshops during the summer leading up to the Alain Bertaud evening in September. The workshops will be lead by Vancouver Urbanists who will share their thoughts on Alain Bertaud’s book, 
Order Without Design: How Markets Shape Cities.

Members of the Architectural Institute of BC and the Planning Institute of BC are eligible for 1.5 Professional Development Credits for attending. 

BCSLA CE Credits are available for members of the British Columbia Society for Landscape Architects for attending.

Discussion on Alain Bertaud’s Order Without Design

Urban Lunch Meetings With Vancouver Urbanists

We had 5 online Urban Lunches during the summer leading up to the Alain Bertaud evening on September 20th.
Each workshops was lead by a Vancouver Urbanists who shared their thoughts on Alain Bertaud’s book, Order Without Design How Markets Shape Cities.

September 9th – Wendy Waters, Michael Mortensen & Andrey Pavlov

The fifth Urban Lunch includes speakers Wendy Waters, Real Estate researcher, Michael Mortensen, Urban Planner and Andrey Pavlov, Professor at SFU.

Wendy, Michael and Andrey will speak about how the ideas of Alain Bertaud have affected their research and practice.

Don’t miss this hour that will make you think different about our city.

August 26th – Bruce Haden & Oliver Hartleben

Bruce Haden, co-author of Urban Magnets and the co founder of Human Studio. Oliver Hartleben is the former planning head of Guatemala City and current head of IBI’s West Coast Placemaking Team.

Don’t miss this hour that will make you think different about our city.

August 12th – Chris Lewis & David Negrin

Chris Lewis has been at the forefront of the resurgence of indigenous developments that are transforming our region. 

Chris Lewis seeks to ensure that indigenous values remain primary through consultations with elders and other members of the community and that these insights are shared with aboriginal people internationally.

David was head of Concord Pacific as it transformed North False Creek from a rail yard into an internationally celebrated liveable community. David will share his insights on how indigenous values and experiences can teach us all about creating a better, more resilient city.

July 22nd – Julia Harten & Erick Villagomez

Julia and Erick will build on the interesting discussion initiated in the first Urban Lunch with Jens von Bergmann and Nathanael Lauster. Influenced by the work from Alain Bertaud’s Order without Design, They will be sharing insights from their research, they will attempt to weave a more complex narrative around affordability and densification: touching upon their relationship to urban pattern, building type, and social equity.

The session is sure to provoke many interesting questions.

Don’t miss this hour that will make you think different about our city.

July 8th – Jens von Bergmann & Nathanael Lauster

Jens von Bergmann is passionate about data analysis and visualization. He was inspired by Alain Bertaud’s book Order Without Design to calculate the density gradient of Metro Vancouver. He has discovered it is not behaving like other cities. 

Nathanael Lauster is a socialogist, demographer and the author of “Death and Life Of The Single Family House”.

Jens and Nathanael will introduce new research they are doing on new insights into zoning thanks to data analysis. 

The Public Salon has provided a platform for more than 280 presenters and has produced 34 events at the Vancouver Playhouse to an audience of over 18,000 people, “Introducing Vancouver to Itself“.

The Public salons take place at the Vancouver Playhouse at 600 Hamilton St. at Dunsmuir St.

Sam Sullivan and Lynn Zanatta, organizers of the Public Salons

Videos from Past Public Salons

Names are ordered alphabetically by first name. Please click on a presenter to view their presentation.

| Aaron Sanderson | Adrian Crook | Adrian Glynn & Fringe Percussion | Al Etmanski  | Alan Twigg  | Alexander Weimann  | Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos  |Alexandra Gill | Anadi Canepa  | Andrea Paquette  |  Andrew J. Petter  |  Arran Stephens  |  Bal Arneson  |  Barbara-Jo McIntosh  |  Ben Sparrow  |  Bettina Matzkuhn  |  Dr. Bill MacEwan  |  Bill Rees  |  Bill Richardson  |  Bob Rennie  |  Borealis Quartet  |  Brett Finlay  |  Brian Canfield  |  Dr. Brian Day  |  Brian Scudamore  |  Bruce Haden  |  Bruno Freschi  | Candy Ho  | Carol Anne Hilton | Caroline MacGillivray  |  Carolyn Chan  |  Carolyn Tuckwell  |  Chan Hon Goh  |  Charles Barber  |  Charles Montgomery  |  Charlie Annenberg-Weingarten  |  Chip Wilson  |  Chris Doray  |  Chris Morrissey  | Chris Brandt | Christopher Gaze  | Chuck Davis  | Clancy DennehyDr. Clara van KarnebeekClaudia Li |  Cory Ashworth  |  Cornelia Hahn Oberlander  |  Craig Tomlinson  |  Crystal Pite  |  Dale McClanaghan  |  Dale McKay  |  Daniel Kalla  |  David Allison  |  David Granirer  |  David Moscrop  |  David Lemon  |  David Robertson  |  Dessert Menu Reading Contest  |  Devon Brooks  |  Diane Finegood  |  DJ Kearney  |  Don Alder  |  Donald MacPherson  |  Emad Armoush  |  Douglas Todd  | Emelia Symington-Fedy | Eran Sudds  | Eric Termuende | Erika Bergman | Erin Treloar  |  Eric Peterson  |  Erick Lichte | Etienne van Eck  |   Farzana Jaffer Jeraz  |  Dr. Gabor Mate  | Gaby Eirew  |  Gary Stephen Ross  |  Genesa Greening  |  Genevieve Ennis Hume  | George BelliveauGina Morris  |  Graeme Berglund  |  Graham Harrop  |  Grant Lawrence  |  Hal Gunn  |  Hannah Epperson  |  Hank Bull  |  Major Harjit Sajjan  |  Heather Watson  |  Henry Tsang  |  Henry Yu  |  Holman Wang  |  Holly Peck  |  Howard Trottier  |  Ilana Labow  |  Jack Austin  |  James Tansey  |  Jane Coop  |  Jas Johal  |  Jason Lindstrom  |  Jay DeMerit  |  Jem Garrard  |  Jen Wladichuk |  Jennifer Gardy  |  Jim Bolger  |  JJ Lee  |  Jocelyn Morlock  |  Joesh Khunkhun  | John Burns  |  John Fluevog  |  John Korsrud  |  John Robinson  |  Dr. John Webb  |  Jonathan Becker  |  Jonathan Tippett  |  Jorge Amigo |  Joseph Dahmen |  Judy Graves  |  Judy Illes  |  Kahlil Ashanti  |  Kate Armstrong  | Katheryn Petersen & Ben Metis  | Kate Hennessy  | Kathy Kinloch  |  Kedrick James  | Keith Ahamad | Ken Lum  | Ken Tsui  |  Kevin Chong  |  Kevin Vallely  |  Tsawwassen Chief Kim Baird  |  Kim Peacock  |  Kishor Wasan  |  Kwiaahwah Jones  |  Lance Barrett Lennard  |  Chief Justice Lance Finch  | Landon Mackenzie  | Lara Boyd  |  Lauren Mote  |  Leigh Boyle  | Leslie Van Duzer | Liam Brunham  | Linda Solomon Wood  | Livona Ellis  |  Lotte Davis  | Ludovica Mazzucato  |  Marie Khouri  |  Marjan Jamsaz  |  Mark Angelo  |  Mark Brand  |  Mark Jaccard  |  Mark Vessey  |  Professor Mark Wexler  |  Mark Winston  | Marke Driesschen  |  Martha Carter  |  Dr. Martin Andresen  |  Matt Harper |  Matthew Soules  |  Maureen McGrath  |  Max Cameron  |  Dr. Max Cynader  |  Mebrat Beyene  |  Meeru Dhalwala  |  Michael Driedger  |  Michael Goldberg  |  Michael Green  |  Dr. Michael Krausz  |  Dr. Michael Tenzer   Michael Tippett  |  Michael Stevenson  |  Michaëlle Jean  |  Michelle Faehrmann  |  Minelle Mahtani  |  Miriam Laroche  |  Mo Dhaliwal  |  Mohamed Assani  |  Nancy McKinstry  |  Ned Bell  |  Nejeed Kassam  |  Dr. Nicole Aubè  |  Nicole Bridger  |  Norman Armour  |  Omer Arbel  |  Pamela Liversidgel  |  Paul Pelletier  |  Patrick Condon  |  Patrick Lucas  |  Paul Conder  |  Paul Dragan  |  Paul Merrick  |  Paul Plimley  |  Peg Fong  |  Penny Gurstein  |  Peter Klein  |  Peter McKnight  |  Peter Ross  |  Pieter Romer  |  Philippe Tortell  |  Peter Tingling  |  Dr. Redouane Al Fakir  |  Richard Hulbert |  Richard Lowy | Rick Antonson | Robert Silverman  |  Robert Sung  |  Dr. Roger Shick  |  Ron Rule  |  Rosemary Conder  |  Rudy Buttignol  |  Ryan Holmes  |  Sal Ferreras  | Salimah Ebrahim  |  Sapna Dayal  |  Sarah Maitland  |  Scott Jones  |  Shachi Kurl  |  Shannen O’Brian  |  Shari Graydon  |  Shengtian Zheng   |  Dr. Shimi Kang  |  Sirish Rao  |  Sonya Kashyap  |  Stanley Coren  |  Steve Curtis  |  Steve Pratt  |  Steve Rio  |  Sukh Brar  |  Tasha Guenther  |  Taylor Owen  |  Terry McBride  |  Judge Thomas Gove  |  Thomas Bevan  |  Tim Laidler  |  Timothy Taylor  |  Trevor Boddy  |  Trevor Stokes | Unjali Malhotra | Dr. V. Setty Pendakur | Wally Opal | Walter Mustapich | Wayne Hartrick | Wendy Pattenden | Yosef Wosk | Zoe Pawlak