William Thomson was born in Hamilton, ON in August 1926. Before finishing high school, Bill joined the Army. After his discharge in 1945, Bill set about finishing high school, then on to McMaster University for a B.A. in Geography, then an M.A. in Geography and Urban Economics from the University of Indiana in 1953. He undertook post graduate studies in urban and regional geography and planning at the University of Chicago.
After graduation, Bill spent two years as Senior Planner with the Community Planning Branch of the Province of Ontario. This was followed by becoming Deputy Planning Director and, later, the Planning Director of the Burlington and Suburban Planning Board. In 1961, Bill became the first Planning Director, City of Kitchener and Secretary-Treasurer of the Kitchener Planning Board until becoming the first Commissioner of Planning and Development, Regional Municipality of Waterloo—a post he held until 1985 when he shifted to become the first Commissioner of Economic Development for the City of Kitchener.
In 1992, Bill entered the consulting sector as Partner, Thomson McGough Consultants Inc. and then as President, Bill Thomson Consultant Inc. During this period, Bill became a mediator for The Ontario Municipal Board. Other assignments included acting as facilitator/consultant for numerous restructuring and amalgamation projects.
Bill was Adjunct Professor for over ten years at the School of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Waterloo and a taught an economic development course for economic development officers there for over 20 years.
He was a member of the Economic Development Council of Ontario, the Association of Ontario Land Economists, Lambda Alpha Land Economics Society, and the American Society of Planning Officials. He was on many other industry and community groups such as the Midwestern Ontario Development Association, Region of Waterloo Airport Commission, Kitchener Industrial Coalition, Waterloo Ecological and Environmental Advisory Committee, Canada’s Technology Triangle, Walter Bean Grand River Community Trail Foundation, St Kossuth Bog Restoration Advisory Committee, Paul’s United College and many labour adjustment committees. He received numerous awards and certificates of appreciation throughout his career.
Bill has served the Canadian Institute of Planners, and its affiliates, well over the years. In 1961-62, he was Secretary/Treasurer of the Town Planning Institute of Canada, becoming its President for 1962-63. He was a founding member and Vice-President of the South Western Chapter of the Town Planning Institute of Canada, and later its President. He was Chairman of the Energy Conservation Planning Task Force for the Canadian Institute of Planners. Bill became a CIP Fellow in 1983.
Since retiring in 2008, Bill is enjoying traveling, the cottage, reading, writing, and grandchildren. Bill offers the following advice to young planners: don’t say no—you can make a difference if you have the courage to do things and learn from mistakes to make things better.