Reinventing Urban Waterfronts Beyond the Urban Core: Public Space and Redevelopment in Squamish and the Vancouver Region


  • Annika Airas Simon Fraser University
  • Peter V. Hall Simon Fraser University


public space, waterfront, discourse, planning, suburban, Vancouver


Urban waterfront research has concentrated primarily on the redevelopment of the core areas of major port
cities; yet just as cargo handling activities have extended from their traditional core urban port locations into the
metropolitan hinterland, urban waterfront redevelopments have spread into smaller and suburban communities.
Both processes have occurred without much scholarly attention. In this paper, we trace the implications of
waterfront redevelopment processes in smaller suburban communities beyond the urban core. We show how
suburban waterfront developments tend to ignore local cultural histories and communities while threatening
the values of diversity that might be embraced in all public spaces, regardless of location.
To accomplish this, we provide a case study of waterfront redevelopment and public space formation in
the town of Squamish, British Columbia, in comparison to other suburban waterfront redevelopments around
the metropolis of Vancouver. Typically, these redevelopments are in communities that used to host signifi cant
industrial operations and are now trying to “reinvent” themselves. We identify the limited publics celebrated
by, and the constrained forms of publicness created through, contemporary suburban waterfront planning
practices. We also pay specifi c attention to the changing planning discourses that strongly infl uence the design
and marketing of contemporary suburban waterfront communities.

Author Biographies

Annika Airas, Simon Fraser University

Postdoctoral Fellow

Urban Studies, Simon Fraser University

Peter V. Hall, Simon Fraser University

Professor, Urban Studies Program, Simon Fraser University