Vancouver is a city unlike any other. Wherever I look, I see water or mountains — or both. And everyone looks so healthy.
- The Daily Telegraph (UK)
Metro Vancouver, Canada’s third largest urban centre, is made up of 21 municipalities, covering 2,930 square kilometers. These municipalities include the City of Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody and the villages of Belcarra and Anmore to the east of the city; Richmond, Delta, Surrey, Langley and White Rock to the south; and north, across the inlet at the base of three mountains, West Vancouver, Lions Bay and North Vancouver, known collectively known as the North Shore. The entire area is dissected by rivers and inlets crossed by 39 bridges and 11 tunnels.
Urban planning in Vancouver is characterized by high-rise residential and mixed-use development in urban centres, resulting in unique neighbourhoods made up of glass and steel. Many people in these areas can walk or bike to work, enhancing the livability. A city-wide network of bicycle lanes and routes supports an active population of cyclists year-round. Transit ridership is increasing, with 16.6 per cent of working commuters taking transit, and the newest light rapid rail line, the 19 km Canada Line from downtown to Richmond, already exceeding ridership goals. Vancouver also has the second largest fleet of trolley buses in North America after San Francisco.
When it comes to natural beauty, few cities compare. Conde Nast Traveller has voted Vancouver the Best City in the Americas. The proximity to the ocean results in lots of rain, but it’s a myth that the city is Canada’s rainiest – it doesn’t even rank in the top eight.
The temperate climate does mean that residents and vistors alike can play outdoor sports all year long. In fact, it is one of the few places where you can surf, ski and golf – all on the same day. World-reknown skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing in the winter are replaced by mountain biking and hiking in the summer.
And with 18 km of ocean beaches surrounding the area, all water sports, especially swimming, kayaking and windsurfing, are also popular. The coastline also makes Vancouver a popular destination for boating enthusiasts.
As an active, fit city Vancouver also hosts a number of running competitions. The Vancouver Sun Run is now the largest timed 10km race in North America. The Vancouver International Marathon is gaining worldwide recognition, and each year the CIBC Run for the Cure attracts more and more runners for this important cause.
As a result, Vancouver has once again been named in the “top 10 of the world’s ultimate sports cities” by SportBusiness Group (April 2010). The city loves its sports and its sports teams, including the Vancouver Canucks, BC Lions, and the new MLS franchise Vancouver Whitecaps.
But it also has an appreciation for the finer things. For culture there is the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Opera Company, Ballet B.C., the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and the Centre for Performing Arts, the Arts Club and Vancouver Playhouse theatres. Other smaller theatre venues, nightclubs, headlining concerts and other events, including a myriad of festivals, keep the city buzzing year round.
Vancouver is known as the city of festivals, especially during the summer when there is one almost every weekend. To name a few: the Celebration of Light, an international fireworks competition; the Jazz Festival; International Comedy Festival; Childrens’ Festival; Dragon Boat Festival; International Wine Festival; and numerous community festivals.
Food also plays a key role in the city’s reputation. Vancouver is considered among the world’s best cities for eating, attracting top-notch restaurateurs and top-rated dining establishments of every type, from izakaya to charcuterie to tapas. Now considered a “food capital” by The New York Times, it is truly an epicurean’s dream, with diners spending more money eating out than in any other city in the country.