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Vancouver ( ) is a coastal city located in the Lower Mainlandmarker of British Columbiamarker, Canadamarker. It is named for Britishmarker Captain George Vancouver, who explored the area in the 1790s. The name Vancouver itself originates from the Dutch "van Coevorden," denoting somebody from Coevordenmarker, a city in the Netherlandsmarker.

The largest metropolitan area in Western Canada, Vancouver ranks third largest in the country and the city proper ranks eighth respectively. The city of Vancouver has a population of just over 578,000 and its Census Metropolitan Area exceeds 2.1 million people. Its residents are ethnically diverse, with 52% having a first language other than English.

Logging sawmills established in 1867 in the area known as Gastownmarker became the nucleus around which the townsite grew, and Vancouver was incorporated as a city in 1886. By 1887, the transcontinental railway was extended to the city to take advantage of its large natural seaport, which soon became a vital link in a trade route between the Orient, Eastern Canada, and Londonmarker.The Port of Vancouver is now the busiest in Canada, and the fourth largest port (by tonnage) in North America.While forestry remains its largest industry, Vancouver is well known as an urban centre surrounded by nature, making tourism its second largest industry. It also is the third largest film production centre in North America after Los Angelesmarker and New York Citymarker, earning it the nickname Hollywood North.

Vancouver has ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world for more than a decade. It has hosted many international conferences and events, including the 1976 United Nations Conference on Human Settlements and the 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication. The 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Winter Paralympics will be held in Vancouver and nearby Whistlermarker, a resort community 125 km (78 miles) north of the city.


Archaeological records indicate the presence of Aboriginal people in the Vancouver area from 8,000 to 10,000 years ago.The city is located in the traditional territories of Skwxwú7mesh, Xwméthkwyiem, and Tseil-waututh peoples of the Coast Salish group.They had villages in various parts of present-day Vancouver, such as Stanley Parkmarker, False Creekmarker, Kitsilano, Point Greymarker and near the mouth of the Fraser River.

The first European to explore the coastline of present-day Point Greymarker and parts of Burrard Inletmarker was José María Narváez of Spain, in 1791, although Samuel Bawlf contends that Francis Drake may have visited the area in 1579. George Vancouver explored the inner harbour of Burrard Inlet in 1792 and gave various places British names.

The explorer and North West Company trader Simon Fraser and his crew were the first known Europeans to set foot on the site of the present-day city. In 1808, they travelled from the east down the Fraser River, perhaps as far as Point Grey, near the University of British Columbiamarker.

The Fraser Gold Rush of 1858 brought over 25,000 men, mainly from Californiamarker, up the Fraser River, most bypassing what would become Vancouver. Vancouver is among British Columbia's youngest cities; the first European settlement was not until 1862 at McLeery's Farm on the Fraser River, just east of the ancient village of Musqueam in what is now Marpolemarker. A sawmill established at Moodyville (now the City of North Vancouvermarker) in 1863, began the city's long relationship with logging. It was quickly followed by mills owned by Captain Edward Stamp on the south shore of the inlet. Stamp, who had begun lumbering in the Port Albernimarker area, first attempted to run a mill at Brockton Pointmarker, but difficult currents and reefs forced the relocation of the operation to a point near the foot of Gore Street. This mill, known as the Hastings Millmarker, became the nucleus around which Vancouver formed. The mill's central role in the city waned after the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in the 1880s. It nevertheless remained important to the local economy until it closed in the 1920s.

The settlement which came to be called Gastown grew up quickly around the original makeshift tavern established by "Gassy" Jack Deighton in 1867 on the edge of the Hastings Mill property. In 1870, the colonial government surveyed the settlement and laid out a townsite, renamed "Granville" in honour of the then-British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Granville. This site, with its natural harbour, was eventually selected as the terminus for the Canadian Pacific Railway to the disappointment of Port Moodymarker, New Westminstermarker and Victoriamarker, all of which had vied to be the railhead. A railway was among the inducements for British Columbia to join the Confederation in 1871, but the Pacific Scandal and arguments over the use of Chinese labour delayed construction until the 1880s.

The City of Vancouver was incorporated on 6 April 1886, the same year that the first transcontinental train arrived. CPR president William Van Horne arrived in Port Moody to establish the CPR terminus recommended by Henry John Cambie, and gave the city its name in honour of George Vancouver. The Great Vancouver Fire on 13 June 1886, razed the entire city. The Vancouver Fire Department was established that year and the city quickly rebuilt. Vancouver's population grew from a settlement of 1,000 people in 1881 to over 20,000 by the turn of the century and 100,000 by 1911.

Vancouver merchants outfitted prospectors bound for the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898. One of those merchants, Charles Woodward, had opened the first Woodward's store at what is now Georgia and Main Streets in 1892 and, along with Spencer's and the Hudson's Bay department stores, formed the core of the city's retail sector for decades.

The economy of early Vancouver was dominated by large companies such as the CPR, which provided capital for the rapid development of the new city. While some manufacturing did develop, natural resources became the basis for Vancouver's economy. The resource sector was initially based on logging and later on exports moving through the seaport, where commercial traffic constituted the largest economic sector in Vancouver by the 1930s.

The dominance of the economy by big business was accompanied by an often militant labour movement. The first major sympathy strike was in 1903 when railway employees struck against the CPR for union recognition. Labour leader Frank Rogers was killed while picketing at the docks by CPR police, becoming the movement's first martyr in British Columbia. The rise of industrial tensions throughout the province led to Canada's first general strike in 1918, at the Cumberlandmarker coal mines on Vancouver Islandmarker. Following a lull in the 1920s, the strike wave peaked in 1935 when unemployed men flooded the city to protest conditions in the relief camps run by the military in remote areas throughout the province. After two tense months of daily and disruptive protesting, the relief camp strikers decided to take their grievances to the federal government and embarked on the On-to-Ottawa Trek, but their protest was put down by force. The workers were arrested near Missionmarker and interned in work camps for the duration of the Depression.

Other social movements, such as the first-wave feminist, moral reform, and temperance movements were also influential in Vancouver's development. Mary Ellen Smith, a Vancouver suffragist and prohibitionist, became the first woman elected to a provincial legislature in Canada in 1918. Alcohol prohibition began in the First World War and lasted until 1921, when the provincial government established control over alcohol sales, a practice still in place today. Canada's first drug law came about following an inquiry conducted by the federal Minister of Labour and future Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King. King was sent to investigate damages claims resulting from a riot when the Asiatic Exclusion League led a rampage through Chinatownmarker and Japantown. Two of the claimants were opium manufacturers, and after further investigation, King found that white women were reportedly frequenting opium dens as well as Chinese men. A federal law banning the manufacture, sale, and importation of opium for non-medicinal purposes was soon passed based on these revelations.

Amalgamation with Point Grey and South Vancouver gave the city its final contours not long before it became the third largest metropolis in the country. As of 1 January 1929, the population of the enlarged Vancouver was 228,193 and it filled the entire peninsula between the Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River.


Located on the Burrard Peninsulamarker, Vancouver lies between Burrard Inlet to the north and the Fraser River to the south. The Strait of Georgiamarker, to the west, is shielded from the Pacific Ocean by Vancouver Island. The city has an area of 114 sq km (44 sq mi), including both flat and hilly ground, and is in the Pacific Time Zone (UTC−8) and the Pacific Maritime Ecozone. Until the city's naming in 1885, "Vancouver" referred to Vancouver Island, and it remains a common misconception that the city is located on the island. The island and the city are both named after Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver, though the city of Vancouver, Washingtonmarker, on the north bank of the Columbia River opposite Portland, Oregonmarker, is only indirectly named for Captain Vancouver; that city’s name was adapted from Fort Vancouvermarker, which had been the headquarters of the Columbia District of the Hudson's Bay Company and the largest settlement in the Pacific Northwest until the Oregon Treaty of 1846.

The vegetation in the Vancouver area was originally temperate rain forest, consisting of conifers with scattered pockets of maple and alder, and large areas of swampland (even in upland areas, due to poor drainage). The conifers were a typical coastal British Columbia mix of Douglas-fir, Western red cedar and Western Hemlock. The area is thought to have the largest trees of these species on the British Columbia Coast. Only in Seattlemarker's Elliott Baymarker did the size of trees rival those of Burrard Inlet and English Baymarker. The largest trees in Vancouver's old-growth forest were in the Gastown area, where the first logging occurred, and on the southern slopes of False Creekmarker and English Bay, especially around Jericho Beach. The forest in Stanley Parkmarker was logged between the 1860s and 1880s, and evidence of old-fashioned logging techniques such as springboard notches can still be seen there.

Many plants and trees growing throughout Vancouver and the Lower Mainland were imported from other parts of the continent and from points across the Pacific. Various species of palm trees grow in the city, as do large numbers of other exotic trees such as the monkey puzzle tree, the Japanese Maple, and various flowering exotics, such as magnolias, azaleas, and rhododendrons. Some rhododendrons have grown to immense sizes, as have other species imported from harsher climates in Eastern Canadamarker or Europe. The native Douglas Maple can also attain a tremendous size. Many of the city's streets are lined with flowering varieties of Japanese cherry trees donated from the 1930s onward by the government of Japan. These flower for several weeks in early spring each year. Other streets are lined with flowering chestnut, horse chestnut and other decorative shade trees.

Vancouver is renowned for its scenery and has one of the largest urban parks in North America, Stanley Parkmarker, which is 404.9 hectares (1001 acres). The North Shore Mountains dominate the cityscape, and on a clear day scenic vistas include the snow-capped volcano Mount Bakermarker in the state of Washington to the southeast, Vancouver Island across the Strait of Georgia to the west and southwest, and the Sunshine Coastmarker to the northwest.


Vancouver's climate is temperate by Canadian standards and is usually classified as Oceanic (Köppen climate classification Cfb). The summer months are typically dry, often resulting in moderate drought conditions, usually in July and August. In contrast, the rest of the year is rainy, especially between October and March.

The average annual precipitation is , though this varies dramatically throughout the metro area due to the topography. In winter, a majority of days receive measurable precipitation. Summer months are drier and sunnier with moderate temperatures, tempered by sea breezes. The daily maximum averages in July and August, with highs occasionally reaching . The highest temperature ever recorded was on 30 July 2009. On average, snow falls on eleven days per year, with three days receiving or more. Its winters are the fourth warmest of Canadian cities after nearby Victoriamarker, Nanaimomarker and Duncanmarker, all on Vancouver Island. Vancouver has daily minimum temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F) for an average of 46 days per year and below on two days per year. On average, 4.5 days a year have temperatures staying below freezing.


Urban planning

A notable aspect of Vancouver's cityscape is its density. Vancouver's approach to planning is unique among North American cities, and has contributed to the city's high rankings in livability (see "Quality of living," below). This success has led to an urban planning movement known as Vancouverism, characterized by high-rise residential and mixed-use development in urban centres, as an alternative to sprawl.

This approach originated in the late 1950s, when city planners began to encourage the building of high-rise residential towers in Vancouver's West End, subject to strict requirements for setbacks and open space to protect sight lines and preserve green space. The success of these dense but livable neighbourhoods led to the redevelopment of urban industrial sites, such as North False Creek and Coal Harbour, beginning in the mid-1980s. The result is a compact urban core that has gained international recognition for its "high amenity and 'livable' development." Vancouver's population density on the downtown peninsula is 121 people per hectare (49 people per acre), according to the 2001 census. More recently, the city has been debating "ecodensity"—ways in which "density, design, and land use can contribute to environmental sustainability, affordability, and livability."

One principle of Vancouverism involves protecting "view corridors". Vancouver's "View Protection Guidelines" were approved in 1989 and amended in 1990, establishing height limits to protect views of the North Shore Mountains. This approach, while credited with preserving the city's scenic backdrop, has been criticized for lessening visual interest and failing to represent the city's contemporary image. In response, Council commissioned a "Skyline Study" in 1997 which concluded that Vancouver's skyline would benefit from the addition of a handful of buildings exceeding current height limits, to add visual interest to Vancouver's skyline. The study found that opportunities for such buildings were restricted due to a limited number of large development sites in the downtown. Eight years later, five of the seven sites identified for higher buildings had been planned or developed. The tallest of the new buildings is the Living Shangri-Lamarker hotel/residential tower, which was completed in 2008, and stands 201 metres (659 ft) tall (62 storeys).


Notable buildings within the city include Christ Church Cathedralmarker, the Hotel Vancouvermarker, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. There are several modern buildings in the downtown area, including the Harbour Centremarker, Vancouver Law Courts and surrounding plaza known as Robson Squaremarker (designed by Arthur Erickson) and the Vancouver Library Squaremarker (designed by Moshe Safdie), reminiscent of the Colosseummarker in Rome.

The original BC Hydro headquarters building at Nelson and Burrard Streets is a modernist high-rise, now converted into the Electra condominiums. Also notable is the "concrete waffle" of the MacMillan-Bloedel building on the north-east corner of the Georgia and Thurlow intersection. A prominent addition to the city's landscape is the giant tent-frame Canada Placemarker, the former Canada Pavilion from the 1986 World Exposition, which includes part of the Convention Centremarker, a Cruise Ship Terminal and the Pan-Pacific Hotel. Two modern buildings that define the southern skyline are the city hall and the Centennial Pavilion of Vancouver Hospital, both designed by Townley and Matheson in 1936 and 1958 respectively.

A collection of Edwardian buildings in the city's old downtown core were, in their day, the tallest buildings in the British Empire. These were, in succession, the Carter-Cotton Building (former home of the Vancouver Province newspaper), the Dominion Buildingmarker (1907) and the Sun Towermarker (1911), the former two at Cambie and Hastings Streets and the latter at Beatty and Pender Streets. Another notable Edwardian building in the city is the Vancouver Art Gallery building, designed by Francis Rattenbury, who also designed the provincial Legislature and the highly-decorated original Hotel Vancouver, which was torn down after WWII due to the completion of the new Hotel Vancouver a block away.

The Sun Tower's cupola was finally exceeded as the Empire's tallest by the elaborate Art Deco Marine Buildingmarker in the 1920s. Inspired by New York City's Chrysler Buildingmarker, the Marine Building is known for its elaborate ceramic tile facings and brass-gilt doors and elevators, which make it a favourite location for movie shoots. Topping the list of the tallest buildings in Vancouver is Living Shangri-Lamarker at 201 metres (659 ft) and 62 storeys. The second tallest building in Vancouver is One Wall Centremarker at 150 metres (491 ft) and 48 storeys, followed closely by the Shaw Tower at 149 metres (489 ft)


Officially designated neighbourhoods of Vancouver (local and urban usage varies)
Vancouver has been called a "city of neighbourhoods," each with a distinct character and ethnic mix. People of English, Scottish, and Irish origins were historically the largest ethnic groups in the city, and elements of British society and culture are still visible in some areas, particularly South Granville and Kerrisdale. German are the next-largest European ethnic group to settle in Vancouver and were a leading force in the city's society and economy until the rise of anti-German sentiment with the outbreak of World War I in 1914. The Chinese are by far the largest visible ethnic group in the city, and Vancouver has a very diverse Chinese-speaking community, with several dialects represented, including Cantonese and Mandarin. Neighbourhoods with high concentrations of single ethnic groups, include the Punjabi Market, Little Italy, Greektownmarker, and (formerly) Japantown.

In the 1980s, an influx of immigrants from Hong Kongmarker in anticipation of its transfer from the United Kingdommarker to Chinamarker, combined with an increase in immigrants from mainland China and previous immigrants from Taiwanmarker, created one of the highest concentrations of ethnic Chinese residents in North America. This arrival of Asian immigrants continued a tradition of immigration from around the world that had established Vancouver as the second most popular destination for immigrants in Canada (after Torontomarker). Other significant Asian ethnic groups in Vancouver are South Asian (mostly Punjabi, usually referred to as Indo-Canadian), Vietnamese, Filipino, Indonesian, Korean, Cambodian Japanese. Despite increases in Latin American immigration to Vancouver in the 1980s and 90s, immigration from Latin America has been comparatively low, and African immigration has been similarly stagnant (3.6% and 3.3% of total immigrant population, respectively.)

Prior to the Hong Kong diaspora of the 1990s, the largest non-British ethnic groups in the city were Irish and German, followed by Scandinavian, Italian, Ukrainian and Chinese, most of the latter being descended from immigrants from Taishanmarker (Toi Shan) in Guangdongmarker. From the mid 1950s until the 1980s, many Portuguese immigrants came to Vancouver and the city now has the third-largest Portuguese population in Canada after Toronto and Montreal. Eastern Europeans, including Yugoslavs, Russians, Czechs, Poles and Hungarians began immigrating after the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe after World War II. Greek immigration increased in the late 1960s and early 1970s during the Dictatorship of the Colonels in Greece, with most settling in the Kitsilano area.

There is a sizable aboriginal community in Vancouver and the surrounding metropolitan region, giving Vancouver the largest native community in the province. Vancouver has a substantial gay community, and British Columbia was the second Canadian jurisdiction (after Ontariomarker) to make same-sex marriage legal. The downtown area around Davie Street, known as Davie Village, is the centre of the gay community. Vancouver has one of the country's largest annual gay pride parades.

Visible Minorities 2006 Census
Chinese South Asian Filipino Southeast Asian Japanese Korean Latin American Multiple Visible Minority West Asian Black Arab Visible Minority n.i.e.
Population 168,215 32,515 28,605 14,850 9,730 8,780 8,225 7,320 5,355 5,290 1,875 990
Percent 29.4% 5.7% 5.0% 2.6% 1.7% 1.5% 1.4% 1.3% 0.9% 0.9% 0.3% 0.2%
Canadian Census Population Growth by decade
Year 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001 2006
Vancouver 13,709 26,133 100,401 117,217 246,593 275,353 344,833 384,522 426,256 414,281 471,644 545,671 578,041
Greater Vancouver 21,887 42,926 164,020 232,597 347,709 393,898 562,462 790,741 1,028,334 1,169,831 1,602,590 1,986,965 2,116,581


With its location on the Pacific Rim and at the western terminus of Canada's transcontinental highway and rail routes, Vancouver is one of the nation's largest industrial centres. The Port of Vancouver, Canada's largest and most diversified, does more than C$75 billion in trade with over 130 different economies annually. Port activities generate $10.5 billion in gross domestic product and $22 billion in economic output. Vancouver is also the headquarters of forest product and mining companies. In recent years, Vancouver has become an increasingly important centre for software development, biotechnology and a vibrant film industry.

The city's scenic location makes it a major tourist destination. Visitors come for the city's gardens, Stanley Parkmarker, Queen Elizabeth Parkmarker, VanDusenmarker and the mountains, ocean, forest and parklands surrounding the city. Each year over a million people pass through Vancouver on cruise ship vacations, often bound for Alaskamarker.

Vancouver can be an expensive city to live in, with the highest housing prices in Canada. Several 2006 studies rank Vancouver as having the least affordable housing in Canada, ranking 13th least affordable in the world, up from 15th in 2005. The city has adopted various strategies to reduce housing costs, including cooperative housing, legalized secondary suites, increased density and smart growth. A significant number of the city's residents are affluent, a perception reinforced by the number of luxury vehicles on city streets and cost of real estate. As of mid-2007, the average two-storey home in Vancouver sells for $757,750, compared with $467,742 in Torontomarker and $322,853 in Calgarymarker, the second and third most expensive cities in Canada. Housing prices have dropped from a peak in 2008, with the average residential sales price for 2009 forecast to be down 9%. The decline in prices has attracted new buyers to the market, however, and prices are expected to stabilize in 2009.

Since the 1990s development of high-rise condominiums in the downtown peninsula has been financed, in part, by an inflow of capital from Hong Kongmarker immigrants due to the former colony's 1997 handover to the PRC. Such development has clustered in the Yaletownmarker and Coal Harbourmarker districts and around many of the SkyTrain stations to the east of the downtown. The city's selection to co-host the 2010 Winter Olympics has also been a major influence on economic development. Concern has been expressed that Vancouver's increasing homelessness problem may be exacerbated by the Olympics because owners of single room occupancy hotels, which house many of the city's lowest income residents, have begun converting their properties in order to attract higher income residents and tourists. Another significant international event, the 1986 World Exposition, was held in Vancouver. It was the last World's Fair held in North America and was considered a success, receiving over 20 million visits. Several Vancouver landmarks date from that period, including the SkyTrain public transit system, the Plaza of Nationsmarker, and Canada Placemarker.


Vancouver, unlike other British Columbia municipalities, is incorporated under the Vancouver Charter. The legislation, passed in 1953, supersedes the Vancouver Incorporation Act, 1921 and grants the city more and different powers than other communities possess under BC's Municipalities Act.

The civic government has been dominated by the centre-right Non-Partisan Association (NPA) since the Second World War, albeit with some significant centre-left interludes until 2008. The NPA fractured over the issue of drug policy in 2002, facilitating a landslide victory for the Coalition of Progressive Electors on a harm reduction platform. Subsequently, North America's first safe injection sitemarker was opened for the significant number of intravenous heroin users in the city.

Vancouver is governed by the ten-member Vancouver City Council, a nine-member School Board, and a seven-member Parks Board, all elected for three-year terms through an at-large system. Historically, in all levels of government, the more affluent west side of Vancouver has voted along conservative or liberal lines while the eastern side of the city has voted along left-wing lines. This was reaffirmed with the results of the 2005 provincial election and the 2006 federal election.

Though polarized, a political consensus has emerged in Vancouver around a number of issues. Protection of urban parks, a focus on the development of rapid transit as opposed to a freeway system, a harm reduction approach to illegal drug use, and a general concern about community-based development are examples of policies that have come to have broad support across the political spectrum in Vancouver.

In the 2008 Municipal Election campaign, NPA incumbent mayor Sam Sullivan was ousted as mayoral candidate by the party in a close vote, which instated Peter Ladner as the new mayoral candidate for the NPA. Gregor Robertson, a former MLA for Vancouver-Fairview and head of Happy Planet, was the mayoral candidate for Vision Vancouver, the other main contender. Vision Vancouver candidate Gregor Robertson defeated Ladner by a considerable margin, nearing 20,000 votes. The balance of power was significantly shifted to Vision Vancouver, which held 7 of the 10 spots for councillor. Of the remaining three, COPE received 2 and the NPA 1. For park commissioner, 4 spots went to Vision Vancouver, 1 to the Green Party, 1 to COPE, and 1 to NPA. For school trustee, there were 4 Vision Vancouver seats, 3 COPE seats, and 2 NPA seats.

Provincial representation

In the Legislative Assembly of British Columbiamarker, Vancouver is represented by 11 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), which includes Gordon Campbell, the current Premier. In the 2009 provincial election, the BC Liberal Party won six seats and the BC New Democratic Party won five seats.

Federal representation

In the Canadian House of Commons, Vancouver is represented by five Members of Parliament. In the 2004 federal elections, the Liberal Party of Canada won four seats and the federal New Democratic Party (NDP) one. In the 2006 federal elections, all the same Members of Parliament were re-elected. However, on 6 February 2006, David Emerson of Vancouver Kingsway defected to the Conservative Party, giving the Conservatives one seat in Vancouver. In the 2008 federal election, the NDP took the Vancouver Kingsway seat vacated by Emerson, giving the NDP two seats to the Liberals' three.


While most of the Lower Mainland is policed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Policemarker's "E" Division, Vancouver operates the Vancouver Police Department, with a strength of 1,174 sworn members and an operating budget of $149 million in 2005. Over 16% of the city's budget was spent on police protection in 2005.

The Vancouver Police Department's operational divisions include a bicycle squad, a marine squad, and a dog squad. It also has a mounted squad, used primarily to patrol Stanley Park and occasionally the Downtown Eastside and West End, as well as for crowd control. The police work in conjunction with civilian and volunteer run Community Police Centres. In 2006, the police department established its own Counter Terrorism Unit. In 2005, a new transit police force, the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Police Service (now South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service), was established with full police powers.
Although it is illegal, Vancouver police generally do not arrest people for possessing small amounts of marijuana. In 2000 the Vancouver Police Department established a specialized drug squad, "Growbusters," to carry out an aggressive campaign against the city's estimated 4,000 hydroponic marijuana growing operations (or grow-ops) in residential areas. As with other law enforcement campaigns targeting marijuana this initiative has been sharply criticized.

As of 2008, Vancouver had the seventh highest crime rate, dropping 3 spots since 2005, among Canada's 27 census metropolitan areas. However, as with other Canadian cities, the over-all crime rate has been falling "dramatically." Vancouver's property crime rate is particularly high, ranking among the highest for major North American cities. But even property crime dropped 10.5% between 2004 and 2005, according to the Vancouver Police. Metro Vancouver has the highest rate of gun-related violent crime of any major metropolitan region in Canada, according to a 2006 Statistics Canada study. There were 45.3 violent offences involving guns for every 100,000 people in Metro Vancouver, slightly higher than the Toronto CMA at 40.4 but far above the national average of 27.5. A series of gang-related incidents in early 2009 escalated into what police have dubbed a gang war. Vancouver plays host to special events such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, the Clinton-Yeltsin Summit or the Symphony of Fire fireworks show that require significant policing. The 1994 Stanley Cup riot overwhelmed police and injured up to 200 people.


Vancouver is the location of the Canadian Forces Land Forces Western Area headquarters of the 39 Canadian Brigade Group, located at Jericho. Local primary reserve units include The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada and The British Columbia Regiment , based at the Seaforth Armourymarker and the Beatty Street Drill Hallmarker, respectively, and the 15th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillerymarker. The Naval Reserve Unit HMCS Discovery is based on Deadman's Islandmarker in Stanley Parkmarker. RCAF Station Jericho Beach, the first air base in Canada, was taken over by the Canadian Army in 1947 when sea planes were replaced by long-range aircraft. Most of the base facilities were transferred to the City of Vancouver in 1969 and the area renamed "Jericho Park."


Vancouver's streetcar system began on 28 June 1890 and ran from the (first) Granville Street Bridgemarker to Westminster Avenue (now Main Street and Kingswaymarker). Less than a year later, the Westminster and Vancouver Tramway Company began operating Canada's first interurban line between the two cities and beyond to Chilliwackmarker, with another line, the Lulu Island Railroad, from the Granville Street Bridge to Stevestonmarker via Kerrisdale, which encouraged residential neighbourhoods outside the central core to develop. The British Columbia Electric Railway became the company that operated the urban and interurban rail system, until 1958 when its last vestiges were dismantled in favour of "trackless" trolley and gasoline/diesel buses. Vancouver currently has the second largest trolley bus fleet in North America after San Francisco.

Successive city councils in the 1970s and 1980s prohibited the construction of freeways as part of a long term plan. As a result, the only major freeway within city limits is Highway 1, which passes through the north-eastern corner of the city. While the number of cars in Vancouver proper has been steadily rising with population growth, the rate of car ownership and the average distance driven by daily commuters have fallen since the early 1990s. Vancouver is the only major Canadian city with these trends. Despite the fact that the journey time per vehicle has increased by one third and growing traffic mass, there are 7% fewer cars making trips into the downtown core. Residents have been more inclined to live in areas closer to their interests, or use more energy-efficient means of travel, such as mass transit and cycling. This is, in part, the result of a push by city planners for a solution to traffic problems and pro-environment campaigns. Transportation demand management policies have imposed restrictions on drivers making it more difficult and expensive to commute while introducing more benefits for non-drivers.

TransLink is responsible for roads and public transportation within Metro Vancouvermarker. It provides a bus service, including the B-Line rapid bus service, a foot passenger and bicycle ferry service (known as SeaBus), an automated rapid transit service called SkyTrain, and West Coast Express commuter rail. Vancouver's SkyTrain system is currently running on three lines, the Millennium Line, the Expo Line and the Canada Line.

Changes are being made to the regional transportation network as part of Translink's 10-Year Transportation Plan. The recently completed Canada Line, opened on 17 August 2009, that connects Vancouver International Airportmarker and the neighbouring city of Richmondmarker with the existing SkyTrain system. The Evergreen Line is planned to link the cities of Coquitlammarker and Port Moodymarker with the SkyTrain system by 2014. There are also plans to extend the SkyTrain Millennium Line west to UBCmarker as a subway under Broadway and capacity upgrades and an extension to the Expo Line. Several road projects will be completed within the next few years, including the Golden Ears Bridgemarker, as part of the Provincial Government's Gateway Program.

Other modes of transport add to the diversity of options available in Vancouver. Inter-city passenger rail service is operated from Pacific Central Stationmarker by VIA Rail to points east; Amtrak Cascades to Seattlemarker; and Rocky Mountaineer rail tour routes. Small passenger ferries operating in False Creek provide commuter service to Granville Island, Downtown Vancouver and Kitsilano. Vancouver has a city-wide network of bicycle lanes and routes, which supports an active population of cyclists year-round. Cycling has become Vancouver's fastest growing mode of transportation.

Vancouver is served by Vancouver International Airportmarker (YVR), located on Sea Islandmarker in the City of Richmond, immediately south of Vancouver. Vancouver's airport is Canada's second busiest airport, and the second largest gateway on the west coast of North America for international passengers. HeliJet and float plane companies operate scheduled air service from Vancouver harbour and YVR south terminal. The city is also served by two BC Ferry terminals. One is to the northwest at Horseshoe Baymarker (in West Vancouvermarker), and the other is to the south, at Tsawwassenmarker (in Delta).



Vancouver is served by School District 39 Vancouver, the second largest school district in British Columbia. As in other parts of the province, numerous independent schools are also eligible for partial provincial funding — this includes religious schools, non-denominational schools, and special-needs schools, most of which also charge tuition. Vancouver also includes three schools that are part of the province-wide Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique (CSF), the Francophone public school district.

Universities and colleges

The two major public universities in the Lower Mainland, the University of British Columbiamarker (UBC) and Simon Fraser Universitymarker (SFU), have campuses within the city, as does the British Columbia Institute of Technologymarker, which provides polytechnic education and grants degrees in several fields. Vancouver Community College and Langara College are publicly-funded college-level institutions (there are several privately-owned ones), and are augmented by colleges in surrounding communities, provide career, trade, and university-transfer programs for Vancouver residents, notably Douglas College and Capilano University. Emily Carr University of Art and Designmarker grants certificates, diplomas, and degrees in art and design. Vancouver Film School provides a one-year curriculum in film production.

International students

Foreign students, particularly from the Pacific Rim, have grown in importance for Vancouver's public and private post-secondary educational facilities. There were over 5400 international undergraduate and graduate students at UBC in 2009, representing 12 per cent of total enrollment. Some private schools have been closed or sanctioned for improperly advertising to international students.

Arts and culture

Entertainment and performing arts

In 1986, Greater Vancouver's cultural community created a coalition of more than 350 arts groups named the Alliance for Arts & Culture. The Alliance advocates for the arts sector; monitoring and responding to public policy issues affecting the interests of artists and providing services for artists to publicize events, network and access professional development opportunities.

Prominent theatre companies in Vancouver include the Arts Club Theatre Company and Vancouver TheatreSports League on Granville Islandmarker, the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company, and Bard on the Beach. Smaller companies include Touchstone Theatre, Studio 58, Carousel Theatre, and the United Players of Vancouver. Theatre Under the Stars produces shows in the summer at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Parkmarker. In addition, Vancouver holds an annual Fringe Festival.

Ballet BC is the city's resident company for classical dance. The Scotiabank Dance Centre, on Granville Street, shows a large number of modern and contemporary dance performances from both local and Canadian companies.

The Vancouver International Film Festival, which runs for two weeks each September, shows over 350 films and is one of the larger film festivals in North America. The associated Vancity Theatre runs independent non-commercial films throughout the rest of the year, as do the Pacific Cinematheque, the Festival Cinemas theatres, and the Hollywood and Rio theatres.

In the Kitsilano district are the Vancouver Maritime Museummarker, and the H.marker R.marker MacMillan Space Centremarker. The Museum of Anthropology at UBCmarker is a leading museum of Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations culture, and the Vancouver Museummarker is the largest civic museum in Canada. A more interactive museum is Science Worldmarker. The city also features a diverse collection of Public Art.

Vancouver is a major regional centre for the development of Canadian music. The city's musical contributions include performers of classical, folk and popular music. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is the professional orchestra based in the city. It is also home to a major opera company, the Vancouver Opera, and numerous regional opera companies throughout the metropolitan area.

The city produced a number of notable punk rock bands, the most famous example being pioneering hardcore band D.O.A., whose enduring prominence in the city was such that Mayor Larry Campbell declared 21 December 2003 "D.O.A. Day" in honour of the band's 25th anniversary. Other notable early punk bands from Vancouver included the Subhumans, the Young Canadians, the Pointed Sticks, Active Dog, The Modernettes, UJ3RK5, I, Braineater, and Nomeansno (originally from Victoriamarker). The punk film Terminal City Ricochet was filmed in Vancouver; its title comes from an ice hockey team called the Terminal City Ricochets.
Chinese New Year Parade, 2007
When alternative rock hit the mainstream in the 1990s, several Vancouver groups rose to prominence, including 54-40, Odds, Moist, the Matthew Good Band and Econoline Crush, while recent successes include Gob and Stabilo. Today, Vancouver is home to a lively independent music scene, including bands such as The New Pornographers, Destroyer, Frog Eyes, The Organ, Veda Hille and Black Mountain; notable independent labels based in the city include Nettwerk and Mint. Vancouver also produced influential metal band Strapping Young Lad and pioneering electro-industrial bands Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly; the latter's Bill Leeb is better known for founding ambient pop super-group Delerium. Other popular musical artists who made their mark from Vancouver include Bryan Adams, Sarah McLachlan, Michael Buble, Nickelback, Heart, Diana Krall, Prism, Trooper, Chilliwack, Loverboy, Payola$, Images in Vogue, The Grapes of Wrath, Marianas Trench, Hedley and Spirit of the West.Notable hip hop artists from Vancouver include the Rascalz, Swollen Members, and Sweatshop Union.

Larger performances are usually held at venues such as GM Placemarker, Queen Elizabeth Theatremarker, BC Place Stadiummarker or the Pacific Coliseummarker, while smaller acts are held at places such as the Plaza of Nationsmarker, the Commodore Ballroommarker, the Orpheum Theatremarker and the Vogue Theatre (currently closed). The Vancouver Folk Music Festival and the Vancouver International Jazz Festival showcase music in their respective genres from around the world.
Vancouver's large Chinese population has a significant music scene, which has produced several Cantopop stars. Similarly, various Indo-Canadian artists and actors have a profile in Bollywood or other aspects of Indiamarker's entertainment industry.

Nightlife in Vancouver had, for years, been seen as restricted in comparison to other cities, with early closing times for bars and night clubs, and a reluctance by authorities to allow for further development. However, since 2003 Vancouver has experimented with later closing hours and relaxed regulations, and an effort has been made to develop the Downtown core further as an entertainment district, especially on and around Granville Street.

Visual art and the Vancouver School

The Vancouver Art Gallerymarker has a permanent collection of nearly 10,000 items valued at over $100 million and is the home of a significant number of works by Emily Carr. Vancouver School of conceptual photography (often referred to as photoconceptualism) is a term applied to a grouping of artists from Vancouver who achieved international recognition starting in the 1980s. No formal "school" exists and the grouping remains both informal and often controversial even among the artists themselves, who often resist the term. Artists associated with the term include Jeff Wall, Ian Wallace, Ken Lum, Roy Arden, Stan Douglas and Rodney Graham.

Media and libraries

The Vancouver Public Librarymarker on Robson Street is the central branch of a network of 22 library branches in the city, with over 2.7 million books in its collection.Vancouver is the centre of the province's news media, with most national media chains having an office in the city.

English-language media

Both of the city's major daily newspapers, The Vancouver Sun and The Province, are published by the CanWest. In recent years, The Globe and Mail, a national newspaper based in Toronto, has added a section for local content in an effort to improve its circulation in Vancouver. Other newspapers include 24 Hours (a local free daily), the Vancouver franchise of the national free daily Metro, the twice-a-week Vancouver Courier, and the Westender. Independent newspapers include The Georgia Straight (a weekly), Xtra West, The Republic and Only. Television stations include CBCmarker, Citytvmarker, CTVmarker and Global BCmarker. Radio stations with news departments include CBC Radio Onemarker, CKNWmarker and News 1130marker. Media dominance is a frequently discussed issue in Vancouver, since both of the major daily newspapers, Global TV, and the Vancouver Courier are all owned by CanWest. The concentration of corporate media has spurred alternatives, making Vancouver a centre for independent online media including The Tyee and NowPublic.

Multicultural media

The diverse ethnic make-up of Vancouver's population supports a rich range of multicultural media. There are three Chinese-language dailies: Ming Pao, Sing Tao Daily and World Journal. Television station OMNI British Columbiamarker produces daily newscasts in Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi and Korean, and weekly newscasts in Tagalog, as well as programs aimed at other cultural groups, although programming in European languages has been deprecated in favour of Asian content since change to the current ownership. Fairchild Group also has two television stations: Fairchild TV and Talentvision, serving Cantonese and Mandarin speaking audiences respectively.

The Franco-Columbian community is served by Radio-Canada outlets CBUFTmarker channel 26 (Télévision de Radio-Canada), CBUF-FMmarker 97.7 (Première Chaîne) and CBUX-FMmarker 90.9 (Espace musique). Vancouver also has British Columbia's longest running Ukrainian radio program, Nash Holos.

Quality of living

Vancouver is known for having clean air, water, and a panoramic view of beautiful mountains which has earned it as being ranked one of the most livable cities in the world for more than a decade. In contrast, according to Forbes, Vancouver had the 6th most overpriced real estate market in the world and was second highest in North America after Los Angelesmarker in 2007. Vancouver has also been ranked Canada's second most expensive city to live in after Torontomarker and the 89th most expensive globally. In the same year, Vancouver was ranked as the 10th cleanest city in the world by Forbes.

Vancouver has a low adult obesity rate of 12% compared to the Canadian average, 23%; however, while 51% of Vancouverites are considered overweight, it is the fourth thinnest city in Canada after Torontomarker, Montrealmarker, and Halifaxmarker.

Sports and recreation

thumb|[[BC Place Stadium]], home of the BC Lions. The dome on the lower right is GM Place.|alt=

The mild climate of the city and close proximity to ocean, mountains, rivers and lakes make the area a popular destination for outdoor recreation. Vancouver has over 1,298 hectares (3,200 acres) of parks, of which, Stanley Park, at 404 hectares (1,000 acres), is the largest. The city has several large beaches, many adjacent to one another, extending from the shoreline of Stanley Park around False Creek to the south side of English Bay, from Kitsilano to the University Endowment Landsmarker, (which also has beaches that are not part of the city proper). The 18 kilometres (11 miles) of beaches include Second and Third Beaches in Stanley Park, English Bay (First Beach), Sunset, Kitsilano Beach, Jericho, Locarno, Spanish Banksmarker, Spanish Banks Extension and Spanish Banks West. There is also a freshwater beach at Trout Lakemarker. The coastline provides for many types of water sport, and the city is a popular destination for boating enthusiasts.

Within a 20-to-30-minute drive from downtown Vancouver are the North Shore Mountains, with three ski areas: Cypress Mountainmarker, Grouse Mountainmarker, and Mount Seymourmarker. Mountain bikers have created world-renowned trails across the North Shore. The Capilano Rivermarker, Lynn Creek and Seymour River, also on the North Shore, provide opportunities to whitewater enthusiasts during periods of rain and spring melt, though the canyons of those rivers are more utilized for hiking and swimming than whitewater.

Running races include the Vancouver Sun Run (a 10 km (6.2 mile) race) every April; the Vancouver Marathon, held every May and Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon held every June. The Grouse Grind is a gruelling 2.9 kilometre (1.8 mile) climb up Grouse Mountainmarker open throughout the summer and fall months, including the annual Grouse Grind Mountain Run. Hiking trails include the Baden-Powell Trail, an arduous 42 kilometre (26 mile) long hike from West Vancouvermarker's Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove in the District of North Vancouvermarker.

Vancouver will be the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games and hosted the 2009 World Police and Fire Games. Swangard Stadiummarker, in nearby Burnabymarker, hosted games for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

In 2011, Vancouver will be hosting the Grey Cup, the Canadian Football League (CFL) championship game which is awarded every year to a different city which has a CFL team. The Vancouver Titans of the International Basketball League played their inaugural season in 2009, with home games at the Langley Event Centremarker. Vancouver is a centre for the fast-growing sport of Ultimate. During the summer of 2008 Vancouver hosted the World Ultimate Championships.

Professional sports teams

Club League Sport Venue Established Championships
Vancouver Canucks
Ice hockey General Motors Placemarker
BC Lions
Football BC Place Stadiummarker
Vancouver Canadians
Baseball (Single A Short Season) Nat Bailey Stadiummarker
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
USL-1 (men's)

W-League (women's)
Soccer Swangard Stadiummarker


Vancouver Giants
Ice hockey Pacific Coliseummarker
Vancouver Titans
Basketball Langley Event Centremarker
Vancouver (first season in 2011)
Soccer BC Place Stadiummarker
2009 (2011)

Affiliated cities and municipalities

The City of Vancouver was one of the first cities in Canada to enter into an international sister cities arrangement. Special arrangements for cultural, social and economic benefits have been created with these sister cities.

There are 21 municipalities in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD). While each of these has a separate municipal government, the GVRD oversees common services within the metropolitan area such as water, sewage, transportation, and regional parks.

See also


  1. ^ R. Samuel Bawlf, The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake: 1577-1580 (Walker Publishing) 2003.
  2. McGowan's War, Donald J. Hauka
  3. Early Vancouver, Maj. J.S. "Skit" Mathews
  4. James Morton. In the Sea of Sterile Mountains: The Chinese in British Columbia. Vancouver, BC: J.J. Douglas, 1974. (A thorough discussion of Chinese immigration and associated issues in British Columbia politics)
  5. Carved From Wood: A History of Mission 1861-1992, Andreas Schroeder, publ. Mission Foundation (1991), 227 pp., ASIN: B000WB9TWM
  6. Environment Canada. "Lower Mainland Ecoregion" Narrative Descriptions of Terrestrial Ecozones and Ecoregions of Canada (#196). Retrieved on: 3 August 2007.
  7. Bula, F. (September 6, 2007). "Some things worked: The best - or worst - planning decisions made in the Lower Mainland." Vancouver Sun article available on the website of the Cascadia Center for Regional Development. Retrieved on: 2009-07-02.
  8. Hutton, T. (2008). The New Economy of the Inner City. Routledge: London & New York.
  9. Strangers Entertained, British Columbia government centennial publication, 1971
  10. Hiebert, D., (June 2009). "The Economic Integration of Immigrants in Metropolitan Vancouver." IRPPChoices 15(7), p. 6. Retrieved on: 2009-07-13.
  11. Munroe, S. "Same-Sex Marriages Now Legal in BC." Canada Online. New York Times Company. Retrieved on: 2008-08-10.
  12. Vancouver: Economy Vancouver City Guide. World News Network. Retrieved on: 2009-07-11
  13. British Columbia Real Estate Association. (Spring, 2009). "Housing Forecast." BCREA Economics. Retrieved on: 2009-07-17.
  14. 2009 Official Election Results by Party. Elections BC, 2009-06-05. Retrieved on: 2009-07-18.
  15. Beers, D. (October 15, 2008). "In Vancouver-Kingsway, an NDP rookie replaces Emerson." The Tyee, The Hook: Federal Politics. Retrieved on: 2009-08-02.
  16. "Canada Votes 2008: Results, Ridings & Candidates." Retrieved on: 2008-08-02.
  17. Land Force Western Area. National Defense Canada. Retrieved on: 2009-07-17.
  18. Land Force Western Area Units. National Defense Canada. Retrieved on: 2009-07-17
  19. The Naval Reserve: HMCS Discovery. National Defense Canada. Retrieved on: 2009-07-17.
  20. Jericho Beach Flying Boat Station. Royal Canadian Legion, BC/Yukon Command. Retrieved on: 2009-07-17.
  21. "Driving Lessons." Vancouver Magazine. (June 2007).
  22. British Columbia: Business and Investment Environment. Government of Canada. Retrieved on: 2009-08-02.
  23. Most independent schools in Vancouver are Federation of Independent School Associations members. Province-wide, independent schools comprise 10.8% of total school enrollment and receive up to 50% of the per pupil grant to public schools (see FISA Constitution - "Quick Facts."
  24. Liste des écoles (list of schools). Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique. Retrieved on: 2009-08-02.
  25. The UBC Vancouver Campus includes facilities at Point Grey, Robson Square and Great Northern Way. Simon Fraser University, Harbour Centre is in downtown Vancouver, as is BCIT's downtown campus.
  26. Community Colleges in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Hecterra Publishing. Retrieved on: 2009-07-19.
  27. The Emily Carr University of Art and Design provides university degrees in the arts and the Vancouver Film School combines film production work with industry-led theory.
  28. VCC International Education. Vancouver Community College. Retrieved on: 2009-08-02.
  29. International Students. University of British Columbia, Student Services. Retrieved on: 2009-08-02.
  30. New Jersey university to open campus here, By Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun, B1, Published June 19, 2007
  31. Photography with an eye for social relevance
  32. Sarah Milroy "Is Arden our next greatest photographer?" Globe and Mail (Oct. 27, 2007): R1.
  33. Marsha Lederman "Behind the Lens: The Vancouver School Debate" Globe and Mail (Oct. 20, 2007): R13.
  34. Intertidal: Vancouver Art & Artists / E-Flux
  35. Beaches. Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved on 2009-07-11.
  36. Mara, J. Welcome from the President. Official website of the Vancouver Titans. Retrieved on: 2009-07-11

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