The 80’s Overview

C. Cryderman on the GPS Ltd. 1987 TRIM GPS photo control survey. Near Alaska in northwestern BC.

The 80’s Overview

The early to mid 1980s were tough times financially. With the recession of the late 70s still going on, the Company struggled to keep active. Revenue was dominated by government-funded mega projects

  • North East Coal, Tumbler Ridge
  • BC Place, Vancouver
  • Expo’86, Vancouver
  • The BC Government’s TRIM Mapping Program

These projects kept Underhill and many other survey firms active during this period.

By the middle of the decade, the economy was picking up. First Nations Land Claim surveys in the North West Territories finally got underway with the first contracts for the Inuvialuit Agreement coming out in 1985. Underhill won its first Inuvialuit contract in 1986. By the end of 1989, Underhill had completed seven contracts in the Paulatuk, Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk Land Selections.

BC Hydro projects included Stikine–Iskut River Development, Forrest Kerr Diversion, More Creek Dam Site, Homathko River Development, Liard River Development, and the Wahleach Tunnel Revitalization.

Major developments surveyed included the following: Discovery Parks at Simon Fraser University, Cambie Bridge, Oakridge Shopping Centre, Canada Place, Terminal City Club, BC Place, Four Bentall Centre, BC Pavilion at Expo’86, 800 Burrard St. CPR Front Yards Base Plans, Granville Island, Granville Mall, Buildings at UBC, North and South Shore of False Creek development, Bridgeport Harbour Market, BC Packers Celtic Island Development, Price Waterhouse Building, CP Station – 601 W. Cordova, Willowbrook Shopping Centre, Block 32 – Pacific Centre, Champlain Mall, Concord Pacific Developments work on BC Place Lands, Woodfibre Pulp Mill Refit, Abbotsford Airport, Cranbrook Airport, Dunsmuir Tunnel for ALRT, Port Mellon Pulp Mill, and 1000 Beach Ave.

The 1980s were also a decade of great technological change. The IBM Personal Computer was introduced in 1981. Total station survey instruments and GPS positioning also revolutionized the industry. In 1986, Underhill had one PC, shared by everyone. Four years later, the offices were full of PC’s including local area networks, laser printers and high speed plotters. AutoCAD was fast becoming a viable alternative to manual drafting.