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Encyclopedia > Vancouver, Canada
This article refers to the city in British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver can also refer to Vancouver, Washington, USA, a suburb of Portland, Oregon. For other uses, see Vancouver (disambiguation).
City of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
(In Detail) (In Detail)
Motto: By sea, land and air we prosper
City
 - Population (2001): 545,671
 - Cdn. Mun. Rank: Ranked 8th
 - Area: 114.67 km
 - Pop. Density: 4,758.7/km
Metro Area
 - Pop. (2001): 1,986,965
 - Cdn. CMA Rank: Ranked 3rd
 - Area: 2,878.52 km
 - Pop. Density: 690.3/km
 
Time zone Pacific: UTC-8
Latitude 4916' N
Longitude 1237' W
MPs
Libby Davies, Ujjal Dosanjh, David Emerson, Hedy Fry, Stephen Owen
MLAs
Val Anderson, Gordon Campbell, Colin Hansen, Ken Johnston, Jenny Wai Ching Kwan, Joy MacPhail, Lorne Mayencourt, Rob Nijjar, Patrick Wong
Mayor Larry Campbell
Governing body Vancouver City Council
City of Vancouver (http://city.vancouver.bc.ca)

Vancouver is a Canadian city in the province of British Columbia. It is a major seaport and the largest metropolitan centre in western Canada, home to 545,671 people in the city itself (2001) and 2,134,300 people in the metropolitan area (2003). Vancouver is one of the cities of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) and of the larger geographic region commonly known as the Lower Mainland of BC. The current mayor is Larry Campbell, Coalition of Progressive Electors (see List of Mayors of Vancouver). Vancouver will be the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympics, 2006 World Junior Hockey Championships and 2005 Grey Cup Game.

Contents

Location

Vancouver is situated at 49 16′ N, 123 7′ W, in the Pacific Time Zone (UTC-8). It is in the Pacific Maritime Ecozone. It is adjacent to the Strait of Georgia, a body of water that is shielded from the Pacific Ocean by Vancouver Island. Some unfamiliar with the region find it disconcerting that Vancouver does not lie on Vancouver Island. However, both the city and the island (and their American counterpart) are named after Captain George Vancouver of Great Britain, who explored the region in 1792.


History

An aboriginal settlement called Xwmthkwyiem, ("Musqueam"--from masqui "an edible grass that grows in the sea"), near the mouth of the Fraser River dates back to at least 3,000 years ago. Vancouver's ecosystem, with its abundant plant and animal life, provides a wealth of food and materials that have likely supported people for over 10,000 years. At the time of first European contact, the Musqueam and Squamish peoples had villages in the areas around present-day Vancouver. There is also evidence of a third group, the Tsleil'wauthuth, ancestors of today's Burrard Band in North Vancouver. These were Coast Salish First Nations sharing cultural traits with people in the Fraser Valley and Northern Washington. Halkomelem was the common language of the river people; the Squamish spoke a different dialect.


The Native peoples of the Northwest Coast had achieved a very high a level of cultural complexity for a food gathering base. As Bruce Macdonald notes in Vancouver: a visual history: "Their economic system encouraged hard work, the accumulation of wealth and status and the redistribution of wealth...". Winter villages, in what is now known as Vancouver, were comprised of large plankhouses made of Western Red Cedar wood. Gatherings called potlatches were common in the summer and winter months when the spirit powers were active. These ceremonies were an important part of the social and spiritual life of the people.


Spanish Captain Jose Maria Narvaez was the first European to explore the Strait of Georgia in 1791. In the following year, 1792, the British naval Captain George Vancouver (1757-1798) from King's Lynn in Norfolk joined the Spanish expedition based at Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island's west coast and further explored the Strait of Georgia, as well as the Puget Sound in the present day Seattle area.


Lumbering was the early industry along Burrard Inlet, now the site of Vancouver's seaport. The first sawmill began operating in 1863 at Moodyville (in 1915, renamed "North Vancouver"). The first export of lumber took place in 1865; this lumber was shipped to Australia. By 1865 the first sawmill, Stamp's Mill, started in what was to become the City of Vancouver.


In 1870, the colonial government of British Columbia surveyed the community officially known as Granville. It was sited immediately west of Stamp's Mill and commonly known as Gastown, a name that survives today.


In 1885 Granville was selected by the Canadian Pacific Railway to be the western terminus of the transcontinental railway commissioned by the government of Canada under the leadership of Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald. (This led to Vancouver's infrequently used nickname, Terminal City). The CPR selected the new name "Vancouver", in part because the existence of Vancouver Island nearby would help identify the location to easterners. On April 6, 1886, the city was incorporated under that name; the first regular transcontinental train from Montreal arrived at a temporary terminus at Port Moody in July 1886, and service to Vancouver itself began in May 1887.


A fire devastated much of the city on June 13, 1886, but with the arrival of the railway, Vancouver soon recovered and began to grow rapidly due to access to Canadian markets. Additionally, as part of the agreement to join the Confederation, British Columbia's debt of approximately $1,000,000 was paid in full by the Canadian government, creating additional business opportunities.

Enlarge
The waterfront of Vancouver, British Columbia
Enlarge
The main downtown skyline of Vancouver, British Columbia

Scenery

Vancouver is home to one of North America's largest urban parks, Stanley Park. Vancouver has all the urban amenities of a major city, as well as easy access to the Pacific Ocean and the mountains of the Coast Range. Real estate is limited by the surrounding mountains and water, so buildings in downtown Vancouver cluster like the highrises found in central Hong Kong. The North Shore mountains dominate the city landscape, and on a clear enough day there are mountains and sea visible in nearly any direction: Mount Baker (a volcano and ski resort in Washington state) to the southeast, Vancouver Island across the Strait of Georgia to the west and southwest, and the Sunshine Coast to the northwest. Breathtaking views can be seen from many locations in and around the city.


Climate

Vancouver's climate is unusually temperate by Canadian standards; it is the warmest major city in Canada during the winter. The temperature and weather are similar to that of Seattle, Vancouver's nearest major US neighbour. Summer months are usually sunny and the temperatures moderate, with the daily maximum averaging 22C (74F) in July and August. Springs and autumns are generally rainy and cool. Rainfall is frequent in winter. Snow occurs in the surrounding mountains but rarely at sea level. Vancouver typically has one or two light snowfalls per winter. The daily average temperature in January is 3C (37F). For a few nights near the summer solstice each June, the northern sky remains slightly lit by the sun, and nightime lasts only about 6 hours.


Living

Enlarge
Vancouver sunset

Vancouver is a relaxed city with many diversions and easy access to outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, boating, and skiing. There is a lively cultural scene. Some have called it a "city of neighbourhoods," each with its own distinctive character.


Vancouver can be an expensive city, as housing prices are among the highest in Canada. Various strategies aim to lessen housing costs. These include cooperative housing, suites, increased density and smart growth. Nevertheless, as with many other cities on the west coast of North America, homelessness is a concern, as is the growing gulf between rich and poor. A major problem neighbourhood in Vancouver is the Downtown Eastside, with its poor and displaced populations, high substance abuse, and crime.


Vancouver's population density on the downtown peninsula is as high as 20,000 people per square kilometre. City planners in the late 1950s and 1960s deliberately encouraged the development of high-rise condominium towers in the "West End" downtown neighborhood, which has resulted in a compact, walkable and transit/bike friendly urban core. A major downtown condominium construction boom throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s has resulted in real estate values gaining as much as 10-15% per year.


Vancouver has a very low crime rate by North American standards, but was reported in 2004 to have the third-highest crime rate in Canada. The same report noted that Vancouver's violent-crime rate was low but its property-crime rate (partially a consequence of drug addiction centered in the Downtown Eastside) was second only to Tampa, Florida in North America. One of the most common property crimes in the Vancouver area is automobile break-in; thus visitors are advised to conceal all items left in their car, and to use auto-theft protection devices.


People

Vancouver is home to people of many ethnic backgrounds and religions. It contains the second largest Chinatown in North America (after San Francisco's), and many ethnic neighbourhoods including the Punjabi Market, Japantown, Little Italy, and Greektown. Street signs bilingual in English and Chinese or Punjabi can be seen at centres of ethnic concentration. Prior to the hand-over of Hong Kong to China many Chinese immigrants made Vancouver their home, earning it the controversial nickname Hongcouver. This continued a tradition of immigrants flocking from all around the world to call Vancouver home. Statistics Canada data shows that 17% of the roughly 2 million population of the census metropolitan area is ethnic Chinese. [1] (http://www12.statcan.ca/english/profil01/Details/details1pop2.cfm?SEARCH=BEGINS&ID=11931&PSGC=59&SGC=59933&DataType=1&LANG=E&Province=59&PlaceName=Vancouver&CMA=&CSDNAME=Vancouver&A=&TypeNameE=Census%20Metropolitan%20Area&Prov=)


Vancouver has many progressive elements, including a bustling music and art scene, one of the largest gay communities in North America, and innovative approaches to drug issues. The Four Pillars Drug Strategy (http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/fourpillars/) combines harm reduction (needle exchanges, safe injection sites) with prevention, treatment, and enforcement. Marijuana laws are generally unenforced within the city region allowing several "marijuana cafes" to open, earning it the name the Amsterdam of the North, or Vansterdam.


Vancouver is relatively free of racial tension; every ethnic group is represented in every social class. One result is a relatively high rate of intermarriage; trans-ethnic couples are unremarkable in any neighborhood.


Industry

Vancouver is Canada's largest port and one of North America's gateways for Pan-Pacific trade. It ranks second in North America in total foreign exports and second on the West Coast in total cargo volume.

Enlarge
Vancouver region, from space

"Hollywood North," as the city has been called, hosts the production of approximately ten percent of Hollywood's movies. Many American television and films series are shot exclusively in Vancouver. This has partly been because of the favorable Canadian Dollar exchange rate.


Tourism is a vital industry to Vancouver. Whistler, BC, 126 kilometres north of Vancouver, has often been designated as the best skiing resort in North America, and will be the site of the downhill events in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour, and Cypress Mountain, each with a variety of summer and winter leisure activities, are within 30 km drive of downtown Vancouver and all have bird's-eye views of Vancouver and the surrounding region. The city's numerous beaches, parks, waterfronts, and mountain backdrop, combined with its cultural and multi-ethnic character, all contribute to its unique appeal and style. Over a million people annually pass through Vancouver en route to a cruise-ship vacation, usually to Alaska.


In an International Olympic Committee meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, in July 2003, Vancouver was selected as the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The 1986 World Exposition was held in Vancouver.


Transportation

The Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) operates a regional rapid transit system, under the auspices of TransLink, an organization which is responsible for all aspects of municipal transportation, including roads and ferries within the GVRD. There is frequent bus service throughout Greater Vancouver. A foot passenger and bicycle ferry service (known as SeaBus) crosses Burrard Inlet to North Vancouver, while a two-line automated metro system, the SkyTrain, links the downtown subway to the suburbs of Burnaby, New Westminster, and Surrey. The West Coast Express, a commuter rail train serves Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, and Mission. These services have an integrated ticketing system, making public transport cheap and efficient. In addition, private companies operate leisure-oriented passenger ferry services, around False Creek. HarbourLynx provides passenger-only ferry service from Vancouver harbour to Nanaimo harbour on Vancouver Island.


Bus service operates throughout the region. Most buses are wheelchair accessible and a large number carry bike racks, able to carry two wheelchairs and bicycles respectively. Some buses which operate from overhead electrical trolley wires do not carry bicycle racks. It is worth noting that Vancouver is among the last of a few cities in North America which still have trolley buses operating on their streets. Certain diesel commuter buses which travel to the suburbs have bicycle racks, wheelchair lifts, and comfortable high back Greyhound-style seats. Frequency in Greater Vancouver ranges from every few minutes within the City of Vancouver to two to three trips a day to Maple Ridge and Aldergrove.


There is an extensive network of bike paths that provide east/west and north/south routes from one end of the city to the other. Each of the major bike paths has signal control to permit cyclists easy crossing of major arterial roads. Some of the bike paths are on streets that have extensive traffic calming measures such as traffic circles. Neighbourhoods are encouraged to plant and care for the circles and boulevards and add public art along bike routes. Some, (such as the Ridgeway Bikeway) are funky and interesting. The Stanley Park seawall is also a popular recreational bicycle route.


Municipal bylaws and geography have protected Vancouver from the spread of urban freeways, and the only freeway within city limits is Highway 1, which passes through the eastern edge of the city.


Vancouver is served by Vancouver International Airport, located on Sea Island in the City of Richmond, immediately south of Vancouver. The airport (YVR) is one of the busiest on the West Coast. The Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Line (RAV), a new light rapid transit line, is planned to connect the airport and the City of Richmond to downtown Vancouver in time for the 2010 Olympics. A heliport and seaplane dock on Burrard Inlet link downtown directly to Victoria and YVR. Vancouver is also served by two B.C. Ferry terminals, one to the northwest near the village of Horseshoe Bay, and one to the south, at Tsawwassen, linking the mainland to Vancouver Island and other nearby islands.


Rankings

Enlarge
West End, English Bay, Vancouver, BC

Vancouver ranked second (2002, 2003) and third (2004) in a worldwide quality of life survey of 215 cities, conducted by Mercer Human Resource Consulting (http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2003/03/03/cities030303). Vancouver consistently ranks in the top 5 in most worldwide rankings. Vancouver is always ranked number #1 when compared to its Canadian and American peers. Vancouver has tied for first with the cities of Salzburg and Oslo among the UN chosen cities for highest living standards the last 4 years running.


Sites of interest

Notable buildings within the city include Christ Church Cathedral, the Hotel Vancouver (now part of the Fairmont chain), the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia (with a world standard collection of Native American art including work by Bill Reid), and the Vancouver Art Gallery (notable collections include illustrations by Chagall and paintings by Emily Carr). There are several striking modern buildings in the downtown area, including the Vancouver Law Courts and surrounding plaza known as Robson Square (Arthur Erickson, architect) and the Vancouver Library Square (Moshe Safdie, architect), reminiscent of the Colloseum in Rome. The tallest building in the city, One Wall Centre, will soon be eclipsed by the 60+ storey "Living Shangri La" tower[2] (http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=176375), to be completed by 2007.


Interesting places to visit

Some well-known neighbourhoods and other interesting places within the city include the following:

  • the downtown peninsula, including:
    • Gastown, with brick streets and original buildings reflecting Vancouver's history
    • Chinatown, including the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen classical Chinese garden, the Chinese Cultural Centre, shops, restaurants, and open-air markets
    • the West End, one of the most densely populated areas of North America, including access to English Bay, Sunset Beach, and Stanley Park including the Vancouver Aquarium
    • Robson Street, a hip fashionable shopping and dining district
    • Granville Mall, a pedestrian street, characterized by blazing neon signs and a 24/7 urban scene the centre of downtown is a hip area of danceclubs, bars, theatres, concert halls, shoppes, and restaurants. It is also the main transfer area for many of the TransLink buses and has an underground SkyTrain station.
    • Burrard Street is home to high fashion retail, posh hotels, and—interestingly enough—the financial district
    • Yaletown and Coal Harbour neighbourhoods (previously industrial areas, now reclaimed with high-end residential high-rises, danceclubs, restaurants, and bars)
    • Sports arenas BC Place Stadium and GM Place, homes to local professional sports teams like the BC Lions and the Vancouver Canucks
  • False Creek, one of Vancouver's first planned condominium neighborhoods, on the site of what was the largest lumber mill in the city
  • Kitsilano, including Greektown, Kits Beach and the Planetarium
  • Kerrisdale, a cozy, relaxed neighborhood in the southwest, with sushi-bars galore.
  • West Point Grey, the westernmost neighborhood of Vancouver where you can relax on one of the many beaches.
  • Queen Elizabeth Park (the highest point in Vancouver) known as Little Mountain. The park was at one time a gravel quarry. The Bloedel Conservatory and the Quarry Garden are situated near the peak.
  • VanDusen Botanical Garden, a 22-hectare garden in the middle of the city with guided tours offered daily, major events include the yearly garden show and the winter Festival of Lights.
  • Granville Island, including artist galleries and a bustling fresh food market. Tiny passenger ferries known as the "Aquabus" connect Granville Island to the downtown core.
  • Commercial Drive ("The Drive"), for arts, restaurants, cafes, and "multiethnic" shopping
  • the Punjabi Market along Main Street around 49th Ave, for South Asian savors and treasures
  • The University of British Columbia campus and adjacent parklands, including clothing-optional Wreck Beach, the huge Pacific Spirit Regional Park, the Museum of Anthropology, and the UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research. The University of British Columbia also operates the TRIUMF particle/nuclear physics laboratory.
  • The Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) grounds, located in Hastings Park, is the site of the annual fair of the same name held at the end of August.
  • Playland, sharing its location with the PNE, is the city's amusement park and operates from April to September every year.

Municipal election

A proposal to change Vancouver's council elections to run on a ward basis (like most major Canadian cities) rather than its current at-large system was rejected by the populace in a plebiscite on October 16, 2004, possibly due to the increased costs of the ward system. It should be noted that only 22% of city residents cast a ballot in this referendum; however, the plebiscite on whether or not to hold the 2010 Olympic Winter Games only drew 30%.


Colleges and universities

Vancouver and its adjacent communities are the home of two major universities, the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU), as well as a number of community colleges. The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) provides polytechnic education and grants degrees in several fields. Each of these institutions has a small campus in downtown Vancouver to complement their main facilities. Vancouver Community College (VCC) and Langara College also serve Vancouver's post-secondary education needs with career, trade, and university-transfer programs. Vancouver is also home to Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. There are numerous other private institutions in the city.


Professional sports teams

Former professional sport teams

Media

See List of Vancouver media outlets.


Miscellaneous topics

Sister Cities

The City of Vancouver has special arrangements with the following cities:

Municipalities in Greater Vancouver

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, housing, transportation, and regional parks.


Relative Locations to Surrounding Area

Northwest: Sunshine Coast North: Whistler,
Squamish,
West Vancouver,
North Vancouver
West: Pacific Ocean,
Vancouver Island,
Strait of Georgia
Vancouver East: Burnaby,
New Westminster,
Fraser Valley
South: Richmond,
Delta
Southeast: Surrey,
State of Washington, USA

References

  • Macdonald, B. 1992. Vancouver: a visual history. Vancouver: TALONBOOKS.

See also

External links

Commons
Wikimedia Commons has multimedia related to:
Vancouver

  Results from FactBites:
 
City of Vancouver - Information for Visitors (373 words)
Vancouver is the largest city in the province of British Columbia.
Vancouver is home to spectacular natural scenery and a bustling metropolitan core, and boasts one of the mildest climates in Canada.
The City of Vancouver supports a wide range of destination sites — from more than 190 parks to three different civic theatres — that are interesting places to visit for tourists and residents alike.
Vancouver, Canada (766 words)
Vancouver, the commercial (though not the administrative) capital of British Columbia, lies in Canada's extreme south-west corner, only 40 km (25 mi.) from the U.S. border.
Downtown Vancouver is superbly situated on a peninsula in the Strait of Georgia, bounded to the north by Burrard Inlet, a deep fiord reaching far inland, and to the south by the delta of the Fraser River.
As such it is the premier port on Canada's Pacific coast, in addition to being a financial, industrial and cultural center.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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