Whether you live in North Vancouver or are looking to relocate, we have you covered with our ultimate guide to all things North Van.
Located on the north shore of the Burrard Inlet, the beautiful City of North Vancouver lies directly north of Vancouver surrounded by the District Municipality of North Vancouver. Occupying the traditional lands of the Squamish Nation and the Tsleil-Wauthuth Nation, meaning ‘People of the Inlet’ – together with West Vancouver, these three regions are commonly referred to as the ‘North Shore.’
Known for its film production industry, shipping industry, and top tier shopping experiences, it’s usually considered a suburb of Greater Vancouver and is both the most heavily urbanized and densely populated section on the North Shore.
According to the 2011 Canadian census, North Van increased to 48,196 people, a nearly 7% increase from 2006. This bustling North Shore community is chalked full of opportunity, experiences, and lies close by to the gateway of northern BC and all of its natural wonders that help make it one of the greatest backyards in Canada and the world.
Pre-dating the City of Vancouver to the south, a settlement called Moodyville, now the Moodyville Park, was erected by Sewell Moody. It represents one of the oldest European settlements on the Burrard Inlet. In fact, only New Westminster is older, reigning as the oldest non-Native settlement in the area.
This rich history is largely due to the logging industry sailing inland and harvesting the staggeringly beautiful Douglas Fir forests. In 1860, a water-powered mill was built to address production, and soon a school and a post office were both built. The surrounding Municipality of North Vancouver was incorporated shortly after and developed into the 1880’s. Financial collapses in the 1890’s and 1907 left the City in financial ruin, resulting in the separation of West and District of North Van.
Sawmills, logging and small agricultural operations continued to pop up over time, with the areas beautiful mountainous features helping to spur on permanent attractions in the form of skiing hills – namely Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour.
Parks and Recreation
The city of North Vancouver considers itself a leader in environmental protection and stewardship through its commitment to develop and build sustainable communities that integrate and balance social, economic and cultural and environmental concerns of its population.
The City features 47 parks that include urban greenways, heritage parks, playgrounds, waterfront parks, conservation areas, as well as all-weather sports fields and amenities including mountain biking trails, skateboard parks, and wildness hiking trailheads. As a bonus, from it’s waterfront parks the City of North Vancouver boats unparalleled views of Metro Vancouver to the south.
The City also features many dog-friendly and off-the-leash parks like Lynnmouth, Mosquito Creek West and Kings Mill Walk parks, to accommodate man’s best friend.
A lifestyle that’s filled with recreation will feel right at home in North Vancouver, as the City supports and advocates for active, recreationally-spirited activities as an essential component to the overall health and wellness of the community. Further to its views, the City and District of North Vancouver established a joint recreation commission, the NVRC, in 1970 to take responsibility for delivering a vast range of indoor and outdoor activities suitable for residents of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.
The NVRC has made North Vancouver one of Canada’s most active, and healthiest communities, evidenced by nearly three million visits to community rec centers each year. Residents have access to 5 indoor leisure, recreation and arts centers, as well as 5 community recreation centers in the District of North Vancouver.
Of particular interest is Lynn Canyon Park, a massive 617 acre forest park with an ecology center, 50 meter high suspension bridge attraction; Twin Falls, a stunning 2 waterfall swimming hole; and the Baden Powell Trail, one of the most well-known trails in North Vancouver, crossing the entire North Shore mountain range linking to several more parks along the way.
Festivals, Attractions and Events
The City of North Vancouver features many impressive signature events and festivals geared towards community involvement. Notably, the Fun City Festival, which features a popular 1000 foot water slide and Car Free Day, a huge community street festival filling Lonsdale Ave between Victoria Park and Esplanade.
The Rivers Day Creek to Creek Festival takes place every year and joins the communities of the City of North Vancouver, and Evergreen as you walk, bike or roll from creek to creek in celebration of World Rivers Day. It’s a passport style event, with check-ins along the way.
BC Rivers Day began in 1980 and has grown exponentially since then. In 2005, Rivers Day was recognized by the United Nations and became World Rivers Day. It’s now celebrated by millions of people from communities around the world
The City also boasts musical events like the Jazz In the Plaza free concert series, as well as community features like Pianos on the Street, an initiative of Pacey’s Pianos and the Piano Teachers Federation.
North Van also has three Farmer’s Markets scattered throughout town, showcasing organic produce, meats, beer, and other artisanal goodies.
The Burrard Dry Dock Pier is a busy City feature, a 700-foot-long pier and signature landmark of North Van. Located at the foot of Lonsdale, the pier gives panoramic 360-degree views of the North Shore Mountains and the Vancouver skyline. It stands as a tribute to the City of North Vancouver’s rich shipping and marine past, contributing to the City’s reputation as a major urban destination.
Arts and Culture
To celebrate the regions diverse and impressive arts and culture community, North Vancouver is home to the North Vancouver Museum and Archives (NVMA). Founded in 1975, the facility serves to preserve and celebrate its unique history. It seeks, collects and preserves records, including public records, archival documents, and photographs from both the district and the City of North Vancouver.
The North Vancouver Community Arts Council is a grassroots and social-profit charitable entity that has dedicated itself to “maximizing the intrinsic value of the arts in all media.” The group enables all artists, both established and emerging, to contribute their work and bridge cultural gaps in the community through art and heritage. The NVCAC has been around for 46 years, and offers various programming projects for artists to get involved with, including a North Shore Cultural Mapping Project, art rental programs, film series, exhibitions and discussions at various locations.
The City’s Shipyard Social is a free arts and heritage event for everyone that aims to transport people back in time to the early 1900’s. The event features dancing, food and drink, music and performances.
Public schools in the City of North Vancouver are managed by the North Vancouver School Board, which runs and operates 8 high schools and 30 elementary schools shared between the City and District of North Vancouver.
An early French Immersion program is offered at 6 locations, and a later Immersion program is offered at two sites. The Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique operates one Francophone school in the city of North Vancouver: école André-Piolat, which has both primary and secondary levels.
Transportation & Economy
The City of North Vancouver is connected to Metro Vancouver via two highway bridges, the Lion’s Gate Bridge, and the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing. It is also connected to Vancouver by a passenger-only sea ferry, the SeaBus.
Operated by Translink, this system also operates a bus system with its central station located at Lonsdale Quay, which doubles as the launch location of the SeaBus.
Highway 1, often referred to as the Upper Levels Highway, is a part of the Trans-Canada Highway and passes through the northern end of the City.
With a slowly growing population of about 0.4% per year, the City of North Vancouver released its Economic Development Strategy in 2008 with the goal of supporting local businesses both small and large.
Some of the larger and more prominent business development opportunities include aspects of tourism, port-related expansion, office-based technology and professional services, high value niche manufacturing and wholesaling, post-secondary education, and film production. The strategy includes a total of 41 specific strategies designed to achieve 21 larger economic goals, and further, fit them into 4 large categories – like high quality infrastructure, a tourism based economic plan, and creating an attractive environment for investment and development.
For more guides of the lower mainland, be sure not to miss:
- The Ultimate Guide to Coquitlam
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- The Ultimate Guide to Port Coquitlam
- The The Ultimate to Tsawwassen Bc
- The Ultimate Guide to Surrey
- The Ultimate Guide to Langley Bc
- The Ultimate Guide to Maple Ridge
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- The Ultimate Guide to Burnaby
- The Ultimate Guide to West Vancouver
- The Ultimate Guide to New Westminster
- The Ultimate Guide to Port Moody