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Welcome To Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver

Vancouver is a coastal city and major seaport, located on the mainland of southwestern British Columbia, Canada. It is named after Captain George Vancouve, a British explorer.

The population of the city of Vancouver is 611,869, while the population of the metropolitan region, known as the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) or Metro Vancouver, is 2,249,725 (2007 estimate). This makes it the largest metropolitan area in western Canada and the third largest in the country. Vancouver is ethnically diverse, with 52% of city residents and 43% of Metro residents having a first language other than English. The population of the city is growing rapidly, and the Metro population is projected to reach 2.6 million by 2020. Population density is highest for a major city on the continent after New York City, San Francisco, and Mexico City, and on track to being second by 2021.

Vancouver is located between the Strait of Georgia and the Coast Mountains. Its economy has traditionally relied on British Columbia's resource sectors: forestry, mining, fishing and agriculture. It was first settled in the 1860s as a result of immigration caused by the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, particularly from the United States, although many immigrants did not remain after the rush. The city developed rapidly from a small lumber mill town into a metropolitan centre following the arrival of the transcontinental railway in 1887. The Port of Vancouver became internationally significant after the completion of the Panama Canal, which reduced freight rates in the 1920s and made it viable to ship export-bound prairie grain west through Vancouver. It has since become the busiest seaport in Canada, and exports more cargo than any other port in North America.

The economy of Vancouver has diversified over time, however. Vancouver has a growing tourism industry, for example, and has become the third-largest film production centre in North America, after Los Angeles and New York City, earning it the nickname Hollywood North. Vancouver has had an expansion in high-tech industries, most notably video game development.

Vancouver is consistently ranked one of the three most livable cities in the world. According to a 2007 report by Mercer Human Resource Consulting for example, Vancouver tied with Vienna as having the third highest quality of living in the world, after Zürich and Geneva. In 2007, Vancouver was ranked the second most expensive in Canada after Toronto, and, in 2006, the 56th most expensive city in which to live among 143 major cities in the world; in the same survey, Zurich and Geneva were ranked as the ninth and seventh most expensive, respectively.
The 2010 Winter Olympics will be held in Vancouver and nearby Whistler.

History

The coastline of present-day Point Grey was first explored by a European in 1791 by José María Narváez of Spain, followed by George Vancouver, who also explored the inner harbour of Burrard Inlet in 1792 and gave various places British names.

The first Vancouver City Council meeting after the 1886 fire
The first Vancouver City Council meeting after the 1886 fire

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

The Cariboo Gold Rush of 1861 brought 25,000 men, mainly from California, to the mouth of the Fraser River and what would become Vancouver. The first European settlement was established in 1862 at McLeery's Farm on the Fraser River, just east of the ancient village of Musqueam in what is now Marpole. A sawmill established at Moodyville (now the City of North Vancouver) in 1863 began the city's long relationship with lumbering, and was quickly followed by mills on the south shore of the inlet owned by Captain Edward Stamp. Stamp, who had begun lumbering in the Port Alberni area, first attempted to run a mill at Brockton Point, but difficult currents and reefs forced the relocation of the operation to a point near the foot of Gore Street, known as Hastings Mill. The mill formed 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, but it nonetheless remained important to the local economy until it closed in the 1920s.

The City of Vancouver was incorporated on 6 April 1886, the same year that the first transcontinental train arrived. The name, honouring George Vancouver, was chosen by CPR president William Van Horne, who arrived in Port Moody to establish the CPR terminus recommended by Henry John Cambie. A massive "slash burn" (clearing fire) broke out of control on 13 June 1886, razing the entire city. It was quickly rebuilt, and the Vancouver Fire Department was established that same year. From a settlement of 1,000 people in 1881, Vancouver's population grew to over 20,000 by the turn of the century and 100,000 by 1911.

The economy of early Vancouver was dominated by large companies such as the CPR, which had the capital needed for the rapid development of the new city. Some manufacturing did develop, but the resource sector was the backbone of Vancouver's economy, initially with logging, and later with exports moved 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 during that strike, becoming the British Columbia movement's first martyr. Canada's first general strike occurred following the death of another labour leader, Ginger Goodwin, in 1918, at the Cumberland coal mines on Vancouver Island. A lull in industrial tensions through the later 1920s came to an abrupt end with the Great Depression. Most of the 1930s strikes were led by Communist Party organizers. That 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.
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 its control over alcohol sales, which still persists 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 Chinatown 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 taking its place as 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.

Geography

 

Vancouver

The original vegetation of most of Vancouver and its suburbs was dense temperate rain forest, consisting of conifers with scattered pockets of maple and alder, as well as large areas of swampland (even in upland areas, due to poor drainage).

Stanley Park, with the Coal Harbour residential area in the background
Stanley Park, with the Coal Harbour residential area in the background

The conifers were a typical coastal British Columbia mix of Douglas-fir, Western red cedar and Western Hemlock; thought to have been the greatest concentration of the largest of these trees on the entire British Columbia Coast. Only in Seattle's Elliott Bay did the trees rival those of Burrard Inlet and English Bay in size. The largest trees in Vancouver's old-growth forest were in the Gastown area, where the first logging occurred, and on the south slopes of False Creek and English Bay, especially around Jericho Beach. The forest in Stanley Park is mostly second and third growth, and evidence of old-fashioned logging techniques such as springboard notches can still be seen there.

A diverse collection of plants and trees were imported from other parts of the continent and from points across the Pacific, and can be found growing throughout Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. Various species of palm trees have proven hardy in this climate and are a common sight, as are 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. Many rhododendrons have grown to immense sizes, as have other species imported from harsher climates in Eastern Canada or Europe. The native Douglas Maple can also attain a tremendous size. Many streets in the city are lined with flowering varieties of Japanese cherry trees that were donated by Japan, starting in the 1930s. Certain areas of West Vancouver that have the right soil requirements are home to the Arbutus menziesii tree.

Vancouver has an area of 114 square kilometres (44 sq mi), including both flat and hilly ground. Vancouver is adjacent to the Strait of Georgia, a body of water that is shielded from the Pacific Ocean by Vancouver Island. It is in the Pacific Time Zone (UTC-8) and the Pacific Maritime Ecozone. The city itself forms part of the Burrard Peninsula, lying between Burrard Inlet to the north and the Fraser River to the south. Vancouver is not on nearby Vancouver Island. However, both the island and the city (as well as Vancouver, Washington) are named after Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver.

Vancouver is renowned for its scenery and has one of the largest urban parks in North America, Stanley Park. The North Shore Mountains dominate the cityscape, and on a clear day scenic vistas include the snow-capped volcano Mount Baker in the State of Washington to the southeast, Vancouver Island across the Strait of Georgia to the west and southwest, and the Sunshine Coast to the northwest.

Vancouver's climate is unusually temperate by Canadian standards; its winters are the fourth warmest of Canadian cities monitored by Environment Canada after nearby Victoria, Nanaimo, and Duncan, all of which are on Vancouver Island.

Vancouver has daily minimum temperatures falling below 0 °C (32 °F) on an average of 46 days per year and below -10 °C (14 °F) on only two days per year. The average annual precipitation is about 1,219 millimetres (48 in), though this varies dramatically throughout the city due to the topography. Summer months are quite sunny with moderate temperatures, tempered by sea breezes. The daily maximum averages 22 °C (72 °F) in July and August, although temperatures sometimes rise above 26 °C (78 °F). The summer months are often very dry, resulting in moderate drought conditions a few months of the year. In contrast, more than half of all winter days receive measurable precipitation. On average, snow falls on only eleven days per year, with only three days receiving six or more centimetres (2.5 in or more).

Vancouver Climatological Data
Temperature
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec   Year
Record high °C
(°F)
15
(60)
18
(65)
19
(67)
25
(77) '
30
(87)
31
(87)
32
(89)
33
(92)
29
(85)
24
(75)
18
(65)
15
(59)
   
Average high °C
(°F)
6
(43)
8
(46)
10
(50)
13
(56)
17
(62)
19
(67)
22
(71)
22
(71)
19
(66)
14
(56)
9
(48)
6
(43)
  14
(57)
Mean °C
(°F)
3
(38)
5
(41)
7
(44)
9
(49)
13
(55)
15
(59)
18
(64)
18
(64)
15
(58)
10
(50)
6
(43)
4
(38)
  10
(50)
Average low °C
(°F)
0.5
(33)
2
(35)
3
(38)
5
(42)
8
(47)
11
(53)
13
(56)
13
(56)
11
(51)
7
(44)
3
(38)
1
(33)
  7
(44)
Record low °C
(°F)
-18
(-0)
-16
(3)
-9
(15)
-3
(26)
0.6
(33)
4
(39)
7
(43)
6
(44)
0
(32)
-6
(21)
-14
(6)
-18
(-0)
   
Average Precipitation and Sunshine Hours
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec   Total
Total mm
(in)
154
(6.1)
123
(4.9)
114
(4.5)
84
(3.3)
68
(2.7)
55
(2.2)
40
(1.6)
39
(1.5)
54
(2.1)
113
(4.4)
181
(7.1)
176
(6.9)
  1199
(47)
Rainfall mm
(in)
139
(5.5)
114
(4.5)
112
(4.4)
84
(3.3)
68
(2.7)
55
(2.2)
40
(1.6)
39
(1.5)
54
(2.1)
113
(4.4)
179
(7.0)
161
(6.3)
  1155
(45)
Snowfall cm
(in)
17
(6.5)
10
(3.8)
3
(1.1)
0.4
(0.2)
0 0 0 0 0 0.1
(0)
3
(1.1)
16
(6.4)
  48
(19)
Sunshine hours 60 85 134 182 231 229 295 268 199 125 64 56   1928
Data recorded at Vancouver International Airport by Environment Canada. Data spans 1971 to 2000.

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.

Vancouver Neighborhoods of Vancouver

Population growth

The following table and graph show the population growth of the City of Vancouver (not including Point Grey and South Vancouver before 1929) and the metropolitan area using census data of Statistics Canada.

Population growth, 1886 to 2006.

Population growth, 1886 to 2006.

Year Vancouver Metro
1891 13,709 21,887
1901 26,133 42,926
1911 100,401 164,020
1921 117,217 232,597
1931 246,593 347,709
1941 275,353 393,898
1951 344,833 562,462
1956 365,844 665,564
1961 384,522 790,741
Year Vancouver Metro
1966 410,375 892,853
1971 426,256 1,028,334
1976 410,188 1,085,242
1981 414,281 1,169,831
1986 431,147 1,266,152
1991 471,644 1,602,590
1996 514,008 1,831,665
2001 545,671 1,986,965
2006 578,041 2,116,581

Economy

Sunset beach at English Bay in the West End of downtown
Sunset beach at English Bay in the West End of downtown

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$43 billion in trade with over 90 countries annually. Port activities generate $4 billion in gross domestic product and $8.9 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 Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, and the mountains, ocean, forest and parklands surrounding the city. The numerous beaches, parks, waterfronts, and mountain backdrop, combined with its cultural and multi-ethnic character, all contribute to its unique appeal and style for tourists. Over a million people annually pass through Vancouver en route to a cruise ship vacation, usually to Alaska.

The city's popularity comes with a price. Vancouver can be an expensive city, 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. The average two-storey home in Vancouver sells for $988,500, compared with $489,889 in Toronto and $411,456 in Vancouver, the next most expensive major cities in Canada.

A major and ongoing downtown condominium construction boom began in the late 1990s, financed in large part by a huge flow of capital from Hong Kong immigrants prior to the 1997 hand-over to China. High-rise residential developments from this period now dominate the Yaletown and Coal Harbour districts of the downtown peninsula, and also cluster around some of the SkyTrain stations on the east side of the city.

The city has been selected to co-host the 2010 Winter Olympics, which is influencing 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 20,111,578 visits. Several Vancouver landmarks date from that period, including the SkyTrain public transit system, the Plaza of Nations, and Canada Place.

Transportation

Vancouver's streetcar system began on 28 June 1890 and ran from the (first) Granville Street Bridge to Westminster Avenue (now Main Street). Less than a year later, the Westminster and Vancouver Tramway Company began operating Canada's first interurban line between the two cities, 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.

City councils, as part of a long term plan, prohibited the construction of freeways in the 1980s. The only major freeway within city limits is Highway 1, which passes through the north-eastern corner of the city.

South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority (TransLink), the Metro Vancouver transportation authority, is responsible for roads and public transportation within region. It provides a bus service, B-Line Rapid Bus Service (two of the three B-Lines run in Vancouver with two more B-Lines by 2008), a foot passenger and bicycle ferry service (known as SeaBus), a two-line automated metro system called SkyTrain, and the commuter rail West Coast Express.

New improvements are being made to the regional transportation network as part of the Gateway Program. Future projects include the Canada Line, a metro-style train line that will connect Vancouver International Airport and the neighbouring municipality Richmond with Downtown. Many other road projects will be completed within the next few years, including the Golden Ears Bridge.

Inter-city passenger rail service is operated from Pacific Central Station by VIA Rail to points east; Amtrak Cascades to Seattle, Washington; and Rocky Mountaineer rail tour routes.

Vancouver is served by Vancouver International Airport (YVR), located on Sea Island 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 two float plane companies operate scheduled air service from Vancouver harbour. The city is also served by two BC Ferry terminals. One is to the northwest at Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver, and the other is to the south, at Tsawwassen (in Delta).

Arts and culture

Vancouver is the home to museums and galleries. The Vancouver Art Gallery has a permanent collection of over 7,900 items valued at over $100 million and is the home of a significant number of works by Emily Carr. In the Kitsilano district are the Vancouver Maritime Museum, and the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre. The Museum of Anthropology at UBC is a leading museum of Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations culture, and the Vancouver Museum is the largest civic museum in Canada. A more interactive museum is Science World.

Vancouver
 The Vogue Theatre on Granville Street

In 1986, Greater Vancouver's cultural community created the Alliance for Arts and Culture to provide a strong voice for the sector and an avenue to work together. This coalition now numbers more than 320 arts groups and individuals. The Alliance's mission is to "strive towards an environment that recognizes, respects, and responds to the contribution our sector makes to society's well-being."

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 CBC Radio Orchestra and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra are the two professional orchestras 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.

Larger performances are usually held at venues such as GM Place, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, BC Place Stadium or the Pacific Coliseum, while smaller acts are held at places such as the Plaza of Nations, the Commodore Ballroom, the Orpheum Theatre 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.

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 even further as an entertainment district, especially on and around Granville Street.

For more information on Vancouver please visit the websites below:

http://govancouver.about.com/ About.com travel guide for Vancouver
http://www.vancouver.ca/ City of Vancouver website
http://www.tourismvancouver.com/visitors/ Tourism Vancouver
http://www.allianceforarts.com/ Alliance for Arts and Culture
http://www.vancouver2010.com/en Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, Official Web Site

Information provided from the Wikipedia article found at www.wikipedia.com © 2008 Move In And Out, Inc.

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