Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication, or simply Expo '86, was a World's Fair held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada during the summer of 1986. The fair, the theme of which was "Transportation and Communication: World in Motion - World in Touch", coincided with Vancouver's centennial and was held on the north shore of False Creek. It was the second time that Canada held a World's Fair, the first being Expo '67 in Montreal (during the Canadian Centennial).
Up until the late 1970s, the 173 acre (0.7 km²) site on False Creek where Expo was staged was a former CPR rail yard and an industrial wasteland. However, in 1980, the British Columbia Legislature passed the Transpo 86 Corporation Act, paving the way for the fair. Expo 86 was originally called Transpo 86, until it became clear that the event would be a world exposition. The transportation theme reflected the city's role in connecting Canada by rail, its status as a major port and transportation hub, and the role of transportation in communications. Communication and transportation have long been linked in Canadian studies, reaching back to early fur trade and railroad communication works by Harold Innis.
Expo '86 opened on May 2, 1986 and featured pavilions from 54 nations and numerous corporations. Expo's participants were given the opportunity to design their own pavilion or opt for the less expensive Expo module. Each module was approximately two-and-a-half stories high and had the floor space equal to a third of a city block. The design was such that any number of the square modules could be placed together in a variety of shapes. The roof design allowed the interior exhibit space to be uninterrupted by pillars.
In all, 22 million people attended the expo and, despite a deficit of $311 million CAD, it was considered a tremendous success. It remains to date the biggest event in BC history and is viewed by many as the transition of Vancouver from a sleepy provincial backwater to a city with some global clout. It marked a strong boost to tourism for BC.
Many have also seen the fair as being at least partially responsible for the re-election of Social Credit for the final term.
Today, the western two-thirds of the site have been developed into parks and high rise condominiums; the eastern portion was used for the annual Molson Indy race, until it was cancelled in late 2004. Future plans call for the eastern third of the site to be developed into parkland and condominiums. The western third of the site is presently owned by the real estate investment firm Concord Pacific , which has its primary shareholder the Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing. The redevelopment took longer than expected, but is one of the most successful urban developments in Canadian history.
In 1988, the site was sold to the Pan Pacific development corporation for a fraction of the original cost, a move that proved to be extremely controversial. Premier William Vander Zalm and his friend, the late Peter Toigo were accused of influence peddling in the sale.
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