Staff Bios

Gordon Harris

President and CEO

An urban planner, development strategist, real estate market analyst and author, Gordon Harris is also a popular facilitator, public speaker, university lecturer and a leading commentator on sustainable community planning, social closure planning and on the challenges of planning for an aging population.

For more than three decades, Harris has been a leading provider of market-based economic analysis and strategic planning advice to large land owners, investors, developers, retail business operators and to property managers in all levels of government in Canada, as well as to businesses and governments around the world. Since 2007, he has also guided development of UniverCity, a complete community that is being built on Burnaby Mountain in Metro Vancouver, to complement and raise endowment income for Simon Fraser University.

In private practice, Harris continues to provide land-use planning and development advice as far afield as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and China. He also collaborates with Washington-based CHG International, for example, providing community-based economic development strategies in Bosnia and social closure planning for mine-effected areas of Guatemala.

Harris is a fellow of the Canadian Institute of Planners and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, a member of the National Capital Commission Advisory Committee on Planning, Design, and Realty, and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for lifetime contribution to community building in Canada.

His professional work has earned awards from the Canadian Institute of Planners, the Planning Institute of British Columbia, the Alberta Planners Association, and the Economic Development Association of BC.

Harris is a frequent presenter at international conferences and a regular lecturer at Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, and Capilano University.

His new book, Building Community: Defining, Designing, Developing UniverCity is available now from the Living Future Institute.

Dale Mikkelsen

Vice President, Development

Dale is the Vice President of Development for SFU Community Trust. Mikkelsen and the Trust’s team are making significant and innovative contributions toward the creation of independent and universal green building standards to ensure a high level of urban design and environmental performance. Mikkelsen is charged with raising the bar of sustainable community planning to ensure Univercity remains on the leading edge of energy efficiency, material conservation, healthy environments and community building.

In 2015, Dale was selected to be the representative of the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI), acting as an expert on resilient communities and sustainable development for an international exchange with the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIRE) administered by the Government of Japan. Dale was invited to tour the damage and recovery efforts following the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake in 2011, leading to the largest rebuilding and recovery effort in Japanese history. The purpose of the CLAIRE exchange was to have international experts review local policy and action and provide expertise in the rebuilding of these devastated communities to be more resilient and sustainable in the future.

Dale was a recipient of a 2015 Living Building Challenge Hero Award—individuals who receive this distinction have demonstrated a fierce commitment to the Living Building Challenge and their desire to continually raise the bar on behalf of the green building industry. Dale’s award is a recognition of the work the UniverCity team is doing to ensure the community—which will eventually be home to 10,000 people—has a full complement of social infrastructure and a low carbon Central Energy Plant.