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Vancouver, BC is a coastal seaport city located in western Canada, in the Lower Mainland region. The city is bounded on the north by Burrard Inlet, with North Vancouver on the other side of the channel. To the west are Pacific Spirit Regional Park, The University of British Columbia (UBC) and the University Endowment Lands. The Fraser River is the city's southern boundary. Boundary Road defines the eastern border between Vancouver and Burnaby. Vancouver is a compact city, loosely defined by a 20-minute radius.
The original settlement of Gastown grew up on clear-cuts on the western edge of the Hasting Mill sawmill property. In April of 1886, the city of Vancouver was incorporated, renamed to honour the Royal Navy navigator George Vancouver. Two months later, a fire destroyed the new city in less than an hour. The city rebuilt, and in 1929 Point Grey and South Vancouver amalgamated with it, making Vancouver and its metropolitan area the third most populous in Canada. Within a few years, it had become Canada's major Pacific coast port. By the early 1950s, Vancouver developed into Canada's primary business hub for trade with Asia and the Pacific Rim. 25% of Vancouver's homes were built between 1961 and 1980.
The city of Vancouver has a total population of 631,486 (2016 census), with 2,463,431 in the Greater Vancouver area. There was a 6.5 percent population increase between the 2011 and 2016 census profiles. It has the highest population density in Canada, with over 5,400 people per square kilometre. The population is young and family-oriented, with a median age of 40.9.
52% of Vancouver's residents have a first language other than English, and it's one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada. Ethnic neighbourhoods in the city include Chinatown, Greektown, Little Italy, and Punjabi Market. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) rated Vancouver the sixth most "livable" city in the world, with an average overall rating of 97.3 (2018). The city has hosted many international events and conferences, including the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. 2011 Vancouver celebrated its 125th anniversary and year as the Cultural Capital of Canada.
Port Metro Vancouver has become the third-largest port by tonnage in the Americas, twenty-seventh in the world. It is the largest and busiest port in Canada. Forestry remains Vancouver's largest industry. Surrounded by nature and spectacular scenery, tourism has become its second-largest industry. Greater Vancouver and the surrounding area have become one of the most famous film production centres in North America. With large production studios in Vancouver and Burnaby, the city has been dubbed "Hollywood North."
Known as "the city of neighbourhoods," Vancouver has eight main neighbourhoods. Coal Harbour is the city's former port district. It has been redeveloped over the years into a residential neighbourhood, with some commercial property. Crosstown comprises an area of about four blocks, connecting Chinatown, Downtown Vancouver, Gastown and the Yaletown/Stadium District. It's a central area with many amenities, including the International Village Mall, T&T Supermarket and popular eateries.
Chinatown is where many of Vancouver's Chinese immigrants established their homes and businesses when they first arrived in Western Canada. There is a vibrant commercial and tourist area, but housing in Chinatown is mostly low-income apartments. Downtown Vancouver is the central business hub, with office towers lining the streets. Most of the residential property is in high rise condos and apartments. Downtown is also home to some of the best-known entertainment venues and restaurants.
Downtown Eastside is one of the oldest neighbourhoods. The area is known as a low-income district, with many homeless, drug addicted and mentally ill individuals. Many of the residents with severe addiction and/or mental illness require supportive housing. The West End is a mixed commercial and residential district, with condos and apartments. Davie Village is located in the West End and is home to Vancouver's gay community.
Yaletown is Vancouver's heritage neighbourhood, along the banks of False Creek and its seawall. Once a warehouse district, the community has been completely revitalized, with a mix of condos and apartments. Other neighbourhoods include Arbutus Ridge, Dunbar-Southlands, East Vancouver, Gastown, Granville Island, Hastings-Sunrise, Kerrisdale, Killarney, Kitsilano, Mt Pleasant, Oakridge, Riley Park, Sunset, Victoria-Fraserview and West Point Grey,
Vancouver's temperate climate is one of its primary attractions. It has a moderate oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) that borders on a warm-summer Mediterranean climate Csb. Summer months are typically dry, often resulting in moderate drought conditions, usually in July and August. In contrast, the rest of the year has plenty of rainfall, especially between October and March. The Rocky Mountains block the cold Arctic that sweeps over the rest of Canada in winter. Snow depths of more than 1 cm are seen for only about ten days each year. The average yearly rainfall is 1,699 mm. Snowfall is 26 cm.
Vancouver's economy was once predominantly resource-based. They have managed to become the fastest growing economy in Canada by successfully transitioning to knowledge-based business sectors. Vancouver represents approximately 7.5% of Canada's entire economy, with a GDP growth rate of 4.5%. Key business sectors include international commerce and trade, film and tv, technology, tourism, natural resources, and construction.
The Port of Vancouver is the largest and most diversified port in Canada, creating 115,300 jobs. The port ranks number one in North America in total foreign exports, and second on the west coast for total cargo volume, landing and transferring more than 142 million tons of cargo, with a value of $200 bn CAD.
Vancouver hosts about 65 movies and 55 TV series each year and is the third largest film and TV production centre in North America. Many of the U.S. TV series are shot exclusively in Greater Vancouver. The film industry creates 20,000 jobs in Vancouver.
Vancouver has a thriving high-technology sector. Local universities and its high standard of living have made the city an excellent place for large foreign tech companies to set up an operational presence, and startups to attract the best talent. The U.S. rigid stance on immigration policy has not been welcoming to some of the world's brightest engineers and programmers, and this has worked out very well for Vancouver.
Over ten million people visit Vancouver a year. Tourism contributes about $4.8 bn to the Metro Vancouver economy each year and creates over 70,000 jobs. There are over 12,000 hotel rooms in Vancouver's downtown core, and many related opportunities in the city's culinary scene and at its many attractions.
The public schools in Vancouver are administered by School District 39. As of 2019, the district provides educational programs to 54,000 students, from kindergarten through grade 12. There are three elementary schools: Crosstown Elementary School, Elsie Roy Elementary School and Roberts Annex. And there are three secondary schools: Alexander Academy, King George Secondary School and Pattison High School. City School is a district mini-school established in 1971 to offer experiential learning to students in elementary and secondary grades. It provides "a non-graded, continuous progress program that allows students to take responsibility for their own learning.
A private elementary school option is The Westside Schools - Foundation Years Centre. At the secondary school level, options include The Westside Schools - Miniversity and Columbia Academy.
45.6% of Vancouver residents have completed a university degree. In addition to their main campus — about twenty minutes from Downtown Vancouver by car — University of British Columbia (UBC) has two locations in the City of Vancouver: the UBC Extended Learning Downtown and UBC Robson Square. UBC is globally recognized as a top-tier educational institution. The university offers a wide range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees.
Simon Fraser University - Vancouver Campus is one of Canada's top comprehensive universities. More than 100 undergraduate major and joint major programs and more than 45 graduate degrees are available at SFU. British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) Downtown Campus has programs for full-time and part-time students. They offer applied Bachelor Degrees and a range of certificates and diplomas.
Vancouver Community College (VCC) Downtown offers over 140 career-oriented certificate and diploma programs. Full- and part-time programs are available in health, hospitality, business, ESL, adult basic education and university transfer. Other extended education options include Alder University, Acsenda School of Management, City University of Seattle, Cornerstone International Community College of Canada, Granville College, Greystone College, New York Institute of Technology, Visual College of Art and Design - Vancouver and Vancouver Film School.
The City of Vancouver has six distinct shopping districts. Chinatown has a charming collection of shops featuring Chinese imports, furniture and clothing, fresh fruits, Chinese medicine, baked goods, tea and ginseng shops and more. Downtown: Robson Street & Alberni Street is one of the city's most famous shopping areas. Robson Street is a fashion strip, with many international brand boutiques like Zara and Banana Republic, and Canadian brands like Le Chateau and Plenty. One block north is Alberni Street. Alberni is Vancouver's 'Rodeo Drive,' with luxury retailers like Gucci, Hermes and Tiffany's.
Granville Island is one of Vancouver's landmarks, located just south of the downtown peninsula, right under the Granville Bridge. Locals and tourists enjoy browsing the iconic Granville Island public market, First Nations art shops, art and culture boutiques, and gift shops; visiting the Emily Carr gallery and watching street performers. Gastown is known for its brick and cobbled streets, whistling steam clock, the statue of Gassy Jack, charming Victorian buildings, souvenir shops, First Nations and indie art galleries, antique shops, streetwear, and great restaurants. It's also home to several high-end independent fashion boutiques like Roden Gray and dutil denim.
The district along 41st Avenue in Kerrisdale Village, in southwest Vancouver, is lined with more than 200 shops, intermingled with coffee houses, eateries and galleries. The village district has preserved the quaint village charm of the 1990s and is a wonderful place to shop for gifts, specialty foods, and high-end children's clothes. And lastly, Vancouver's Department Stores: Holt Renfrew & The Bay. Hudson Bay Company (The Bay) is a mid-range store that carries furniture, appliances, housewares and fashion. Holt Renfrew is a high-end retailer that carries top designer labels as well as their own Holt Renfrew label.
There are three shopping malls in the city core and several others nearby. The CF Pacific Centre is the largest mall in Vancouver's Downtown. Most of the mall's more than 100 stores and parking are underground, keeping shoppers out of the rain, and preserving the skyline above ground. The mall is also connected to Holt Renfrew by an elevated walkway/bridge, and to The Bay by escalator. Pacific Centre is one block away from the Robson Street shops.
Oakridge Centre Mall is one of Vancouver's upscale malls, with more than 150 stores. The mall offers a mix of mid-range shops like Hudson's Bay, Banana Republic and Aritzia; and luxury brands like Harry Rosen, Hugo Boss and Tiffany's. The mall is a favourite place to take children on a rainy day, with several toy shops and an indoor play area. Harbour Centre is one of Vancouver's most iconic landmarks, with a revolving restaurant at the top. Located in the city's heritage district, the bottom two floors offer 37 stores and a food court.
Vancouver's downtown core has more restaurants per square kilometre than any city in Metro Vancouver. If you have a taste for Mediterranean fare, a few selections include Cibo Trattoria, Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill, Italian Kitchen, or Lupo. If you're thinking Asian cuisine, some options are Dae Bak Bon Ga, Jang Mo Jib Korean Restaurant, Momo Sushi, Shizenya or Sura Korean Royal Cuisine Restaurant. French restaurants include Bacchus Restaurant and Twisted Fork Bistro. Other favourite spots are Cactus Club Cafe Coal Harbour, Chambar Restaurant, Fanny Bay Oyster Bar & Shellfish Market, La Taqueria Pinche Taco, Market by Jean-Georges and MeeT in Gastown.
For date night or that special occasion, there are also plenty of upscale and fine dining selections. A few of the highest rated upscale establishments are Ancora Waterfront Dining and Patio, Bishop's, Blue Water Cafe & Raw Bar, Botanist, Cin Cin Ristorante, Five Sails Restaurant, Giardino Restaurant, Gotham Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar, Hawksworth Restaurant, Le Crocodile, Miku Restaurant, Mott 32 and YEW Seafood + Bar.
Vancouver is Canada's official gateway to the Pacific Rim. It's a major port and the primary western terminus of Highway 1 (Trans Canada Hwy) and all major rail routes. 45.41% of the City of Vancouver's residents are vehicle drivers. Highway 99 connects the city with Whistler and BC's Interior. Highway 1A and SE Marine Drive connect with Burnaby, New Westminster and Surrey.
It's 19 minutes (13.0 km) from Downtown to Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Vancouver International Airport has been rated North America's best airport for eight consecutive years. Vancouver's public transit system is convenient, efficient and accessible. TransLink's public transit system includes a network of city buses and community shuttles, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and the West Coast Express commuter train. Most of the city's attractions can be reached via transit.
Arts and Entertainment
Sculptures, reliefs, fountains, and other artworks enhance Downtown's public spaces. Vancouver's public art programs support excellence in many types of public art, by both established and emerging artists, in new and traditional media. This program produces contemporary art to be displayed in public spaces throughout the city.
Vancouver is alive with creativity, art and culture. The city's Culture Plan strives to develop, enliven, enhance, and promote its music, dance, new media, theatre, festivals, film, design, exhibitions, galleries, museums, and special events.
The Arts Club is western Canada's largest theatre company, with two small theatres in Vancouver: The Stanley and Granville Island Stage. Running from mid-June to mid-September, the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival is Shakespearean theatre at its best. Each season there are usually three Shakespeare plays, plus one Bard-related work to choose from.
In the summertime, the Malkin Bowl provides an atmospheric alfresco stage for the Theatre Under the Stars season. Performances usually feature two interchanging Broadway musicals. The Orpheum Theatre is the city's grandest old-school theatre; home to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The Vogue Theatre provides seating for over 1,000 and is the venue for a variety of live music and events throughout the year.
The Vancouver Public Library provides nineteen branches in the City of Vancouver. The libraries offer a large selection of books, devices, movies, music, musical instruments and more. There's also a sizeable digital library with ebooks, digital newspapers, magazines, audiobooks, streaming music and video.
The Vancouver Police Museum is one of the city's most exciting and quirky museums. It's the oldest police museum in North America, and home to over 20,000 rare artifacts and photos, confiscated weapons and counterfeit currency. Rennie Museum is located in the historic Wing Sang building, Chinatown's oldest structure. The museum gallery showcases local and international artists.
Located in BC Place, the BC Sports Hall of Fame & Museum includes interactive exhibits and displays that include the Winter Olympics of 2010, a Hall of Champions and Women in Sports. The Roedde House Museum is the 19th century home of Vancouver's first bookbinder, Gustav Roedde. It's been carefully restored and provides an accurate portrayal of late Victorian family life in Vancouver's West End.
The Vancouver Art Gallery has exhibits that range from the historic masters to contemporary works. The gallery house more than 9,000 works of art, including the most extensive collection of paintings BC artist Emily Carr. There's also a collection of contemporary photography.
Sports and Recreation
Vancouver has twenty-four community centres, providing recreational, social, and cultural activities for all residents, and a great place to make new friends. The centres offer fitness programs, arts and crafts, dance, swimming, skating and child care. There are eight ice rinks, and some of them provide year-round skating and ice sports activities.
BC Place Stadium is a year-round, open-air, multi-purpose sports, exhibition and entertainment facility. The venue has a cable-supported retractable roof; the largest of its kind. The stadium has seating for 54,500 and over 22,482 sq. m. of event space. It's home to the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League (CFL), Vancouver Whitecaps FC of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the annual Canada Sevens (part of the World Rugby Sevens Series), as well as the BC Sports Hall of Fame.
Located near the Brockton Point on the north side of Coal Harbour, Brockton Oval is a cricket and rugby field, and home to the Brockton Point Cricket Club. Other sports fields include Andy Livingstone Field, King George Soccer Field and Lord Roberts Field.
Rogers Arena is an indoor sports arena in Downtown. The arena was initially named General Motors Place (GM Place), but in 2010 the sponsorship and naming rights switched to Rogers Communications. The arena is home to the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League and the Vancouver Warriors of the National Lacrosse League. It has a maximum seating capacity of 20,000 and over 2,229 sq. m. of event space.
The Park Board operates 240 Vancouver parks, destination gardens, community centres and three championship golf courses. Most notable is Stanley Park, bordered by English Bay and the Vancouver Harbour. With old growth cedar trees, a rainforest ecology, the many paths and trails, wildlife, art and attractions, and Seawall path, and the Vancouver's Aquarium; this 404-hectare (1,000 acres) ranks as one of the top urban parks in the world.
Queen Elizabeth Park is a small 52-hectare (130 acres) park is Vancouver's horticultural jewel, with its beautifully landscaped quarry garden, and the Bloedel Conservatory. It's the highest point in Vancouver, with spectacular views of the park, city, and mountains on the North Shore. Other popular parks include Sunset Beach Park and Kitsilano's Vanier Park.
While not in the Downtown core, residents enjoy three local North Shore mountains: Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour. Cypress Mountain is Western Canada's largest night skiing mountain, but the other two are also open at night. Thirty-four minutes from Downtown, Cypress offers 600 skiable acres, with 6 lifts, 2,010 vertical feet, and 53 runs. There's also snow tubing and 19 km of cross country skiing trails.
Grouse Mountain is only a 15-minute drive. The mountain has 212 skiable acres, 4 lifts, 1,198 vertical feet, and 33 runs. Forty-four minutes away, Mount Seymour offers 200 skiable acres, 5 lifts,1,083 vertical feet and 40 runs.
There are no golf courses in the Vancouver core, but nearby golf courses include Fraserview Golf Course, Langara Golf Course, Marine Drive Golf Club, McCleery Golf Course, Point Grey Golf & Country Club and University Golf Club.
Investing in Vancouver
Vancouver has one of the mildest climates in Canada, with outdoor activities year-round. The "Greenest City Action Plan" represents the city's commitment to staying on the cutting edge of urban sustainability. The "Keep Vancouver Spectacular" program organizes cleanup parties to keep the city sparkling clean. According to Numbeo.com, Vancouver's crime rate is considered low, and people feel a very high level of safety walking alone.
Vancouver has more to offer than most cities in Canada, with world-class universities, parks, art and cultural venues, shopping and dining. With so much opportunity, it's a fantastic place to raise a family. Housing prices do reflect the desire to relocate and live in this great city, but that demand has also made homes in the City core a strong investment.
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