The District of West Vancouver is a municipality that lies west of North Vancouver on the North Shore of English Bay. This unique community has developed its own character since separating from North Vancouver in 1912, hosting the 2010 Winter olympics at its Cypress Provincial Park, and becoming one of the main ports connecting mainland BC with Vancouver Island.
Moderately populated, West Van as it’s known to locals, is a distinct combination of urban and rural that beckons visitors to explore its charming locale and identity. Making West Vancouver the ideal moving location, for outdoor enthusiasts that want to remain close to the heartbeat of the city.
What’s West Van All About?
The Municipality of West Vancouver was incorporated in March of 1912, after separating from the District of North Vancouver. Previously only accessible by ferry, in 1938 the Lion’s Gate Bridge was completed, allowing West Vancouver to grow exponentially and open its doors to downtown commuters.
Located on the traditional territory of the Coast Salish and Squamish Nation, the community grew rapidly in the 1910-20’s welcoming railways, direct telephone service, the construction of ferry services, lighthouses and schools. Many of the dwelling is West Van date back to the 20’s and 30’s as a result of this boom.
With a population of 42,694, West Vancouver has the highest percentage of people over the age of 65 in all of British Columbia at 22% making healthcare, retails services and financial/insurance industries important pillars of the local economy.
Parks, Recreation & Trails
Like all lower mainland environments, West Vancouver is no slouch when it comes to showing off its natural beauty and geography.
Some of its more popular parks include Ambleside Park, the gateway to West Van – it enjoys spectacular views of Stanley Park across English Bay and boasts a seawalk, a 3.5 hectare dog park, newly renovated skateboard park, par 3 golf course, and a sandy beach.
Lighthouse Park is a national historic site, and ha become a symbol of West Vancouver. It’s stands of old-growth Fir and Red Cedar forests are a local favourite for exploring, picnicking and hiking. Weighing in at 124 hectares, Whyte Lake Park is the largest park in West Vancouver, showcasing many creeks, a moderate 2-hour trail, lakes, wetlands and old-growth forests. Whyte Lake Park connects Nelson Canyon Park and Cypress Provincial Park, creating a stunning swath of parkland.
Home to over 13 incredible trail systems, West Vancouver can accommodate leisurely strolls and strenuous hikes to satisfy all types of outdoor recreation. Of note, the Baden Powell Trail connects the head of Burrard Inlet in Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay, and the 5k Lawson Creek Forestry Heritage Walk leads to the remains of the Shields Log Dam and Flume Pond, reminding hikers of West Vancouver’s link to its recent past as a rooted forested community.
West Vancouver also features many community centres geared at recreation and physical activity. The Community Centre, Seniors Centre, and coveted ice arena are staples of the local active mentality. The state-of-the-art Aquatic Centre features a water park with an ozonated water treatment system making allowing the centre to use less chlorine than most other parks and hosts many leisure, fitness and rehabilitation services.
Community Culture & Activity
A captivating community to say the least, West Vancouver offers a plethora of opportunities to explore and engage in community culture through many established cultural institutions, festivals, events and heritage sites.
The local Library goes beyond books to include author talks, film nights, an art gallery, language learning courses, concerts, and tech training. The West Vancouver Museum is a local hub for architecture, history, dynamic publications and exhibitions and educational programs.
Every summer, the Harmony Arts Festival showcases North Shore artists in a 10-day festival featuring film and literature, an impressive concert series, culinary delights, world class kids program and a unique pop-up marina and Club 25 boater concierge.
West Vancouver also hosts one of the best Canada Day waterfront celebrations in the lower mainland and the annual municipally sponsored Community Day is held on the first Saturday of June each year at Ambleside Park.
West Vancouver is also a very green-minded community, featuring many environmentally-friendly municipal resolutions, bylaws and programs – namely the Tree Protection, Watercourse Protection and Climate change programs instituted by Town councils. In fact, in 2008, Liberal Blair Weston defeated Conservative MP John Weston, then soonafter defected to the Green Party of Canada, making Wilson and West Vancouver the first municipality in Canada to support a Green MP all the way to Parliament.
Economy & Transportation
Transportation in West Vancouver is provided by the one-fare Blue Bus Transit, Canada’s longest running municipal bus service and the first 100% wheelchair friendly bus service in Canada. It provides travel from Horseshoe Bay to Lion’s Bay, downtown Vancouver via the Lion’s Gate Bridge, to North Vancouver and Capilano under contract to Translink.
The only major highway in West Vancouver is BC Highway 1, a part of the Trans Canada Highway. Highway 99 also runs throughout the community connecting West Van with downtown Vancouver Whistler to the east via the Sea-to-Sky corridor. BC Ferries operates routes from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast.
Electric Vehicle charging stations are also conveniently located at Municipal Hall, West Vancouver Community Centre and Gleneagles Community Centre. Each location has two vehicle charging spots and the service is provided free, available by borrowing a card from the reception desk in each building during operating hours or by ordering your own VERnetwork access card for $10.00
Known as Canada’s wealthiest municipality, the economy here is strong, with over 80% of the population sporting an average household income of at least $100,000. The average cost of a home in West Vancouver is above $2M with 95% of its housing market valued at over $1M.
Aside from strong real estate, retail and hospitality industries, West Vancouver also boasts a popular film industry, with many producers and production companies coming here to take advantage of the spectacular scenery and historic municipal buildings.
Healthcare & Education
Public schools in West Vancouver are controlled by School District 45 West Vancouver, featuring a total of 17 schools ranging from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Three middle/high schools are located in West Vancouver including the West Vancouver Secondary School, Sentinel Secondary School and Rockridge Secondary School.
Francophone/Immersion French language education is provided through the Ecole Pauline Johnson until Grade 7. The district has an annual budget of 39.3 million, and accommodates 6,583 students in total.
Healthcare in West Vancouver is provided by the Copeman Healthcare Centre and Complement Healthcare – West Vancouver’s first multidisciplinary alternative health clinic located at the West Vancouver Community Centre, a full spectrum of healthcare services is offered locally, from chiropractic and massage therapy, to orthotics, psychology and counselling, laser therapy, and Osteopathy.
For more guides of the lower mainland, be sure not to miss:
- The Ultimate Guide to Coquitlam
- The Ultimate Guide to Pitt Meadows
- 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
- The Ultimate Guide To Whistler
- The Ultimate Guide to Richmond
- The Ultimate Guide to Burnaby
- The Ultimate Guide to North Vancouver
- The Ultimate Guide to New Westminster
- The Ultimate Guide to Port Moody