Professor Emeritus Hardwick was involved in public life in British Columbia at the civic, regional, provincial, national and international levels. His longest service to the Province had been through his teaching and scholarship. He taught in the Department of Geography at UBC for over 30 years.
Through a long and varied career, Dr. Hardwick significantly shaped the city and metropolitan region of Vancouver, British Columbia. Notably in the late 1960s, Dr. Hardwick helped to organize a successful movement against a proposed freeway through the city of Vancouver, a scheme planned in relative secrecy at the time by the City and the Province. Following the defeat of the freeway proposal, he was a founding member of "The Electors Action Movement" (TEAM) and was elected to Vancouver City Council under that banner for two terms from 1969 to 1974. While at the City, he helped to transform its decision making processes with more public involvement for major planning decisions. Dr. Hardwick played a pivotal advisory role in the city's redevelopment of Granville Island and South False Creek as well as the master-planned development of the neighbourhood of Champlain Heights on the site of an old landfill. In 1973 Dr. Hardwick published "Vancouver Urban Futures" a detailed survey for the Greater Vancouver Regional District that captured the opinions and interests of Greater Vancouver residents on a range of economic, social, mobility and lifestyle issues. The survey was instrumental in setting new Regional Growth planning policies. In 1990 he completed a similar follow up study "Creating Out Future" to compare the results and to offer policy makers further insight into the priorities and concerns of Greater Vancouver residents.
In 1975, Dr Hardwick was appointed Director of Continuing Education at UBC, a post he relinquished in 1976 to serve as Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Technology in the Social Credit government of Bill Bennett. An early adopter of new technology, he was instrumental in establishing both the Open Learning Institute and the Knowledge Network. Later in his career, he was invited to serve on, and chair, the National Capital Commission, with a mandate related to the planning of Canada's historic capital city of Ottawa, Ontario. In 2000, Dr. Walter Hardwick, one of North America's leading urban geographers, was recognized with an honorary degree from UBC. Currently, a UBC Urban Geography Award and scholarship has been established in his name: The Walter G. Hardwick Scholarship in Urban Studies.