By Andrew Mitchell
As a former premier of British Columbia, Mike Harcourt has been a controversial figure in his time — in this province, it goes with the job.
In 1996 he resigned as premier after a colleague in the NDP used money from a charity bingo to fund the party, contravening rules on fundraising. He was never implicated in the scandal, but Harcourt took responsibility anyway.
While that was the end of his 25-year political career, Harcourt has never stopped working as an agent of change in B.C., researching and championing sustainable development and livable cities long before most people gave much thought to those issues.
In 2002 he sustained a serious spinal cord injury in a fall near his cottage, but made a rapid recovery that has allowed him to walk again despite some partial paralysis. He published a book in 2004 about the injury and his recovery, called Plan B: One Man’s Journey from Tragedy to Triumph.
Through his recovery he remained active in researching and advocating sustainability in the province, and is preparing to publish a second book, called City Making in Paradise that looks at the way Vancouver evolved into one of the world’s most livable cities and the challenge of staying that way through future growth.
Harcourt also serves on the board of several organizations, and has even been given the nickname “Mr. Sustainability” by his colleagues — making him the perfect choice to kick off the third Sustainability Speaker Series in Whistler.
On Friday, June 15, Harcourt will give a presentation on “What’s Next on the Path to Creating More Sustainable, Resilient Communities” at the Telus Conference Centre. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and the presentation gets underway at 5:15 p.m. Admission is by donation.
The speaker series is jointly presented by the Resort Municipality of Whistler and Whistler2020, the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment, the Whistler Forum for Dialogue and Leadership, and Tourism Whistler, among others.
Harcourt will also preside over the graduation ceremonies for the third Whistler Forum Leadership Sea to Sky cohort, from noon to 1:30 p.m. The Class of 2007 includes Kathy Bennett, Maxine Bruce, Neil Edwards, Heather Evans, Sheena Fraser, Ann Marie Gallop, Mike Jenson, Brad Kasselman, Christine Kenny, Deanna Lewis, Tracy Morgan, David Rector, Daniel Sailland, Tim Schoahs, Alison Taylor, and Veronica Woodruff. The ceremony will take place at the Squamish Adventure Centre. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. For more information call 604-902-2001 or e-mail email@example.com.