URBAN LAND ADVISORS
Public Land For Public Good
A Harris Consulting Inc. Affiliate
Urban Land Advisors Inc. provides strategic land use planning and development advice to government and institutional clients across Canada and internationally. This advice assists our clients in leveraging public land for public good.
Urban Land Advisors builds on the 30+ year track record of Harris Consulting Inc., an independent planning consultancy founded by Gordon Harris in 1988.
Gordon Harris is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Planners. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. His clients include universities and colleges across Canada and in Australia as well as all levels of government and NGOs in Canada, Central America, Asia, and Europe.
From 2007 until 2020 Gordon served as the President and CEO of SFU Community Corporation, where he led the planning and development of UniverCity. UniverCity is an international award-winning low-carbon urban community on the endowment lands of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. Net proceeds from this development are used to support teaching and research at SFU.
Services & Approach
Public Land Development Strategies
Community Growth Strategies
General Real Estate Market Advice
Urban Land Use Strategies
Planning for an Aging Population
Building community at any scale must start with the exploration of how all the pieces will fit together. Urban Land Advisors Inc. begins with an understanding of the underlying market dynamics and other external influences that will help shape a project and determine its potential viability, feasibility, and suitability.
We bring expertise in community engagement and organizational change and capacity to projects, with the understanding that that good processes lead to better outcomes. Working with clients to manage change and build capacity helps ensure successful implementation.
Urban Land Advisors Inc. is determined that every project for every client must build equity and the best way to do so is by creating urban features and connections that enhance livability, optimize longevity and sustainability, and focus on resilience. In other words, we help build communities that work in the real world.
Typical projects range in scope and scale from development strategies for small urban infill sites and neighbourhoods to large master-planned communities. Our land demand assessments, market positioning, and land allocation strategies are all rooted in an in-depth understanding of prevailing and anticipated market conditions and influences.
Our approach places profitable sustainability at the forefront, ensuring that the work we do on behalf of our clients will create value for their core mission while meeting the challenge of enhancing the livability, longevity and resilience of the built environment.
We provide our services to a wide range of organizations involved in the planning, development, and use of urban land in Canada and abroad including public land owners and developers, all levels of government, foundations, institutions, and non-governmental agencies.
UniverCity – from 2007 to 2020 Gordon Harris led the planning and development of UniverCity, the award-winning sustainable community on Burnaby Mountain in Metro Vancouver. This low-carbon community is being developed on lands owned by Simon Fraser University and is creating endowment wealth to support teaching and research at SFU. UniverCity is demonstrating global leadership in profitable sustainability through livable, affordable, and sustainable urban development.
Lands for Learning – Gordon Harris provides on-going strategic advisory services to the York University Development Corporation in support of the planning of York’s 68-hectare “lands for learning” project. This ambitious project will see university endowment lands developed over the coming decades with proceeds from university and market development going to support York’s mission and key goals and objectives while creating community within and adjacent to its campus.
City to the Lake – as part of an ambitious and ongoing urban renewal initiative in downtown Canberra, Gordon Harris teamed with Beasley & Associates in 2016 to deliver an intensive program of workshops, master classes, and public presentations on city building, community development, and public engagement (video link). This work shared the experiences of Vancouver and UniverCity to help the Australian Capital Territory government advance a master plan that will ultimately bring significant renewal and new population to the heart of Australia’s capital city.
Toronto Office Coalition – in partnership with the Canadian Urban Institute, Gordon Harris helped produce “Business Competitiveness in the GTA: Why Toronto is Losing Ground.” This major research study for institutional and other land owners looked at the impact of property tax inequities between Toronto and surrounding suburban jurisdictions and explored the implications for regional development patterns.
Blatchford– Gordon Harris provided strategic development advice to a multi-disciplinary team led by Perkins+Will Canada that produced the multiple-award winning Blatchford master plan for a world-leading sustainable community in downtown Edmonton, Alberta. Blatchford is the 200-hectare former Edmonton Municipal Airport site that will ultimately accommodate 30,000 residents in a transit-oriented sustainable community on the north edge of the city’s downtown urban core.
Australian National University – as part of an international team led by Civitas Urban Design and Planning, Gordon Harris participated in the creation of a comprehensive urban design framework for the Union Court/University Avenue precinct at the Australian National University in Canberra. The urban design framework introduces a wide mix of urban uses including retail, office space, residential, and public open space in an academic setting to more fully integrate this campus entrance with the Canberra city core.
Canada Line – during construction of the Canada Line, the 19 kilometre rapid transit line linking downtown Vancouver with the Vancouver International Airport, Gordon Harris and his team developed an extensive Business Liaison Program to assist businesses in downtown Vancouver, along the Cambie Street corridor, and in Richmond during the intensive construction activity through each of these major retail precincts. The program resulted in a reduction of construction impacts on nearby businesses and positioned them for greater performance following the opening of the line just before the 2010 Olympic Games.
Powell Street / Port Lands Industrial Study – in collaboration with CitySpaces Consulting, Gordon Harris undertook a comprehensive analysis of the extent and role of Vancouver’s port-related industrial lands. The study’s conclusions and strategic directions, based on an investigation of global port cities’ industrial strategies and policies, gave the City of Vancouver specific direction in protecting the valuable industrial portland assets and strategies for providing opportunities for industrial land expansion.
Representative Studies, Reports & Media
Urban Land Advisors collaborates with other firms and organizations across a wide range of design and technical disciplines to ensure that each client benefits from access to a diverse and accomplished team of consultants. The following firms, along with other organizations are among our established alliances: