Richard Parker grew up in Zimbabwe, where his father was Chief Town Planning Officer. He did his training in the United Kingdom from 1964 to 1970, studying while working for the County of Cambridge and Dudley Borough Council. In 1970 he received his Diploma in Town Planning from the Birmingham School of Planning and Membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute.
Richard immigrated to Canada in 1972 working for the City of Toronto until he joined the City of Calgary Planning Department in March 1974 as a Long Range Planner. In 1978 he was appointed as a Manager and became Director of Planning and Building in 1988. He retired from the City of Calgary in 2003 and is now a consultant providing services to governments and nonprofit groups.
During his time at the City of Calgary, he was involved with a wide range of planning issues, including land use and transportation plans, downtown planning and innovative projects for new communities such as the Sustainable Suburbs Study, Garrison Woods and Mackenzie Town. He also played a major role in a number of significant projects in the downtown including Olympic Plaza, Eau Claire, the Eaton Centre and revitalization of Stephen Avenue Mall.
In 1975 Richard became a member of CIP. He served as Co-Chair of the 2005 CIP Annual Conference and is currently a member of a number of APPI Committees and acts as mentor to new planners. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary.