Jim Pattison on how Expo 86 changed Vancouver
Thirty years ago, on October 13, Expo 86 closed its gates for good. Van Mag spoke with three high-profile Vancouverites about their time at the world’s fair, and the legacy it left behind (hint: more patios). Here's what Jim Pattison, the former CEO of Expo 86 Corporation—and B.C.'s most famous business magnate—had to say.
August 16, 2016
Truthfully, I had no idea how it would impact the city at all. We were thinking about the present, not the future. We just wanted everything to go smoothly. In the end, of course, it turned out better than expected. There was some controversy around the fair, especially regarding the proper expenditure of money, but the results were very positive. We had budgeted for 14 million people and 22 million showed up. The numbers were better than we could have hoped.
We had a lot of folks up from California, Washington, Oregon and Idaho. That also gave us a larger sense of belonging. I think what we must value the most is that it helped create a whole new city. It made us a major international city in the world today. The expo, in my opinion, was the catalyst that caused our surge onto the world stage.
Economically speaking, changes did not happen instantaneously, but it did start a trend of investment and growth. We were going through a hard time when Premier Bill Bennett made the call to host the fair in 1981. After the fair, we started to gain momentum, and although we had a bump in the ’90s, the momentum, the attitude of our people and the boom in immigration drastically started to change the city for the better.