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Vancouver, a city on the edge of majestic mountain wilderness and Pacific Northwest waterways, it sits at the intersection of the Coast and Cascade mountain ranges and the Pacific Ocean. Vancouver Island and the beautiful Gulf Island chain offer shelter from adverse weather, making the location unrivalled in the world. Nature is easily accessible by a system of world class hiking and marine trails, where outdoor enthusiasts take advantage of protected parkland and fresh coastal air. Add to that sports facilities, culture diversity and a thriving food scene, and it’s no surprise that Vancouver consistently ranks as one of the most liveable cities in the world.
Vancouver has been described as “Manhattan with mountains” (The New York Times), “the supermodel of North American cities” (USA Today) and one writer noted that “everyone looks so healthy” (The Daily Telegraph). In fact, there are over 1,500 (and increasing!) yoga classes happening every week. This is west coast living at its best.
One of Canada’s mildest climates, Vancouver boasts the most sunshine on the coast, while rainfall maintains the lush temperate rainforest. Temperatures average 21° in the summer and 4° in the winter, with typically dry summer months that give way to wet winters, infrequent snow and intermittent cool, sunny days.
A quintessential outdoor mecca, Vancouver boasts year-round outdoor activities. Residents take up water sports like kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, kite and wind surfing, and dragon boating in the calm Burrard Inlet, while post-activity rest beckons along the 18km of sandy and lakeside beaches throughout the city. The North Shore is highly serviced with a trail system that includes the 48km BadenPowell Trail and the infamous Grouse Grind on Grouse Mountain, often referred to as ‘Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.’ Mountain biking trails have a world-class reputation and carve their way throughout the North Shore’s dense forest, including Mount Seymour, Grouse Mountain and Cypress Mountain. Stanley Park, Vancouverites’ favourite city playground, offers 405 hectares to walk, cycle or drive through. The paved seawall is part of a 28km greenway – the longest uninterrupted waterfront path in the world – that sees cyclists, roller-bladers and walkers enjoying West Coast beauty year-round. Stanley Park also has an outdoor freshwater swimming pool and waterpark, Pitch & Putt and tennis courts, as well as restaurants, a brewery, concessions, food trucks and picnic sites. Winter in Vancouver becomes a ski wonderland. Locals choose between three local ski mountains (Grouse, Cypress and Seymour) or make the breathtaking 1.5-hour drive along the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Olympic-calibre Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort. .
Vancouver’s long history with ‘green’ living started before Greenpeace was founded here in 1971 and continues to this day. Since 1990, this has also been the home of the internationally recognized David Suzuki Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving the natural environment and creating a more sustainable future. The city has built over 310km of bike lanes and designated bikeways throughout Metro Vancouver, and an electric vehicle ecosystem has recently been approved; charging stations are now required to make up 20% of parking stalls in all new condo buildings. Walk Score® ranked Vancouver as the fourth most walkable city in North America in 2020.
With top ranking universities and professional colleges calling Vancouver home, higher education is a major draw for those moving to the city. The University of British Columbia (UBC) is ranked #2 in Canada and #34 in the world, and is both the oldest and most competitive university in BC. The 400-hectare campus is situated on a peninsula surrounded by forest and ocean, and includes the lauded Museum of Anthropology and world-class Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. Simon Fraser University (SFU) sits atop Burnaby Mountain, a building of remark designed by architects Arthur Erickson and Geoffrey Massey, and has other campuses in downtown Vancouver and Surrey. SFU is known to be community-engaged and consistently ranks as one of the top comprehensive universities in the country. Other key schools include Capilano University, British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver Film School, Langara College, Vancouver Community College, Columbia College and Douglas College. Uniquely, UBC, SFU, BCIT and Emily Carr have partnered to create the Centre for Digital Media that fuses top-tier technology, industry, business, the arts and the community. For families with younger children, there are both private and public school options, as well as Montessori, French Immersion, Mandarin Bilingual, mini-school programs (with specialities like arts, digital, outdoors, athletics, science and math), International Baccalaureate and various options for alternative and home-based learning. City schools use a city catchment system for student allocation.
Vancouver is seeing a sizeable increase in both job opportunities and average salaries, especially in industries like technology and manufacturing. Software engineers and designers at the big tech firms are averaging $95k annually and machine operators average $58k, while teachers earn between $48k and $90k. In the city and surrounding region, there has been a general 32% job increase tied to economic growth, with 177,300 new openings. The top three industries are currently health care and social assistance; professional, scientific and technical services; and retail trade.
A record 3.96 million square feet of new offices are being built downtown, with the tech industry being the number one driver. 65% of the offices were leased before construction was finished, with three quarters of them leased to tech companies. Growth in the city’s tech jobs is soaring and Vancouver made the largest leap in growth (30%) to rank at number 12 in North America. International companies like Microsoft, Samsung, Sony and SAP have already moved in, bringing with them job opportunities and innovation. Amazon will be the anchor tenant at the Canada Post building downtown, now under extensive re-invention to incorporate residential and commercial space. The company aims to expand its local workforce by 5,000 in the next two years. Across the street, Apple and Deloitte will be setting up shop.
Known as ‘Hollywood North,’ Vancouver is the third largest film and TV production centre in North America. Lionsgate Films was founded here in 1997 and other major studios and special/digital effects and animation companies have moved in since, expanding their presence into the city of Burnaby. This cluster of film and TV business has created a boom in employment, creating over 60,000 jobs in a variety of sectors from creative talent, catering, technical and postproduction, to transportation, accommodation and all of the offshoots that support the local economy. Adding to the city’s sustainable cred, Vancouver Film Studios is the first carbon neutral film studio in the world.
This is the largest port in Canada and third largest in North America per cargo tonnage, and there are plans underway to build a new container terminal to help manage the country’s projected trade demand. The Port of Vancouver acts as a global hub connecting Canada to products and consumers in 170 economies around the world and provides 115,300 jobs. It also supports a thriving cruise ship industry that welcomes over 800,000 passengers to Vancouver’s shores annually, supporting its thriving tourism industry and causing the Port of Vancouver to pay out $7 billion in wages.
Each neighbourhood in Vancouver has a distinct feel and attracts a diverse array of restaurants, shops, cafés and activities. Below are a few of our favourite ‘hoods.
This hip neighbourhood runs along and splinters off Main Street between East 2nd and East 33rd avenues, with tree-lined residential streets filled with a mix of heritage houses and newer condo buildings. Mount Pleasant is one of the most desirable areas for first time homebuyers, families and young professionals. This neighbourhood was once called Brewery Creek because of the numerous breweries that lined a stream that once ran through it. Today there are seven breweries serving up craft beer by the pint or growler. Mount Pleasant is known for its stylish clothing, furniture shops, eclectic restaurants and understated nightlife scene, and is home to Queen Elizabeth Park, the highest point in Vancouver with views across the city and to the North Shore mountains.
A few blocks west of Main Street and sitting on the edge of False Creek, the Olympic Village neighbourhood consists of contemporary glass buildings that reflect and sparkle from the Burrard Inlet waterway. This neighbourhood was constructed to house the athletes for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and has transformed into a small community rich with walking and cycling paths, a bustling community centre, vibrant eateries and nearby galleries. Downtown is easily accessed along the seawall path by mini pedestrian ferries or the Skytrain station a short walk away.
East of Main Street, Cedar Cottage is one of the most ethnically diverse neighbourhoods of East Vancouver. The tight-knit residents enjoy the many independent businesses in this area, where customers are greeted as friends and neighbours. A community Facebook page promotes local activities and establishments, bringing the community together and keeping the diverse collection of restaurants and shops buzzing. On the edge of Cedar Cottage is tranquil Trout Lake Park. A popular farmers’ market is hosted here, and the park contains a community centre, a sandy swimming beach along the south lakefront and designated dog park at the north end.
‘The Drive,’ as it’s locally known, is a culturally rich and diverse neighbourhood in East Vancouver that runs along Commercial Drive from Broadway SkyTrain Station to East Hastings Street. There has been a 60-year history of Italians living here and eight blocks of Commercial Drive are officially designated as ‘Little Italy.’ This colourful ‘hood is packed with over 300 merchants, making it one of the most eclectic collections of local businesses in the city. There’s an arts and theatre scene, an independent cinema and you can hear live music emanating from bars on many evenings. Throughout the neighbourhood are gorgeous character homes, some in turnof-the-century ‘Queen Anne’ style, alongside townhouses and a few condo buildings.
The Cambie Street corridor stretches from West 41st Avenue north to the Cambie Bridge that leads downtown. At the southern end is Oakridge Centre, a shopping mall in operation since the 1950s. It is currently undergoing a complete revitalization, transforming into a cultural hub with new homes, office spaces, a nine-acre park, community amenities and arts events. South Cambie borders Queen Elizabeth Park, which includes the exotic birds and plants in the Bloedel Conservatory, and counts the multi-award winning VanDusen Botanical Garden as a neighbour. The Cambie Street corridor is lined with independent restaurants, cafés and specialty shops that have a neighbourly feel, while also housing big box stores like Whole Foods Market, Home Depot, Canadian Tire and Best Buy at its northern end. Some of the main medical facilities are also found in this area, including BC Children’s Hospital, BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre and Vancouver General Hospital. The street is connected by Vancouver’s newest public transit addition, the Canada Line, which runs mostly underground along the length of Cambie Street. It starts at Waterfront Station downtown (the main transport terminus connecting to North Vancouver) and extends to the City of Richmond and the Vancouver International Airport in the other direction.
Once the hippie hangout akin to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, ‘Kits’ has retained its laid-back beach atmosphere whilst becoming a haven for established young professionals and families. Within close proximity to the beach, stylish boutiques abound along West 4th Avenue and West Broadway. Health conscious eateries are plentiful and authentic Greek markets give a cultural depth to the area; Kits is home to the annual Greek Days Festival. On a global note, this is the birthplace of lululemon athletica, the yoga wear company whose stylish workout wear can be seen in streets all over the world. As well as lively Kitsilano Beach, Kits encompasses Vanier Park, with three main attractions: H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, Museum of Vancouver and Vancouver Maritime Museum. It’s also home to the annual outdoor Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival and the Vancouver International Children’s Festival. Housing is an appealing mix of revitalized heritage homes, high-end residences and newer condos.
Once a warehouse district, the red-brick buildings have now been converted into luxurious lofts, hip office spaces and outstanding restaurants for the most discerning palates. Stores are mostly specialty boutiques, from designer dog clothing and beauty salons, to a shop that uses liquid nitrogen to make its ice cream, for a creamier, denser taste! Yaletown forms a small pocket in the downtown core, along the north shore of False Creek. It has three waterfront parks that are connected to the city’s paved seawall walkway. A mini pedestrian ferry takes residents to various stops around False Creek and a Canada Line station (underground subway) connects directly to the airport.
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