The City Beautiful
A stunning backdrop sets the stage for a city of livable communities
Vancouver regularly ranks among the most livable cities in the world. Residents revel in its gleaming downtown towers and vibrant cultural mix, but it’s the backdrop of mountains and water that stands out for the thousands of people who choose to live and play here every year.
Its coastal location also makes it Canada’s gateway to Asia, an entry point for goods and people from around the globe. Its petite downtown peninsula is packed with neighbourhoods yet easy to navigate on foot, bicycle or transit. English, Chinese and Punjabi are the top local languages, but listen closely and you’ll hear a world more. Some of the best Chinese food outside of China is made here, while Filipino workers mingle with a jet set hailing from Europe, the Middle East and Asia in the city’s network of civic spaces.
Within living memory, migration from within Canada and across the world has transformed a city of loggers and sailors into a modern metropolis. While residents lament the lack of historic landmarks, renovations and redevelopments point to the future. Densification is revitalizing streetscapes in the Oak Street, Cambie Street, Fraser Street and Kingsway corridors. Meanwhile, ambitious new residential and office towers are transforming the skyline from a city of glass to one with class.
Downtown ■ Vancouver boasts one of the most compact and livable urban cores in the world, thanks to a mix of office towers and condos that define high-density West Coast living. Gastown and Chinatown are downtown’s core residential neighbourhoods, constantly reinventing themselves with chic restaurants and contemporary residences. Rogers Arena and BC Place, the city’s primary sports venues, are a short distance from galleries and theatres. Trains, buses, float planes and ferries lead to destinations throughout the province.
West End, Coal Harbour ■ The West End, one of Canada’s most densely populated neighbourhoods, and Coal Harbour lie west of Burrard Street between English Bay and Burrard Inlet. While the West End has long been a favourite of renters, developers are giving it a makeover with plans for new towers with international flair designed to rival Coal Harbour, an upscale precinct of multimillion-dollar condos that have transformed the former Canadian Pacific Railway yards on the harbourfront. Just minutes from downtown offices, the area’s homes have marinas, beaches and the 1,000-acre urban oasis of Stanley Park for their backyard, while Robson, Denman and Davie streets provide shopping and entertainment.
Yaletown ■ A forest of condo towers has transformed this former warehouse district into a model for urban planners around the world. Expo 86 set the stage for Concord Pacific to redevelop the north shore of False Creek, and jobs followed as tech companies set up shop in adjacent warehouse properties. More recently, towers have sprouted toward the Granville Street Bridge on the south side of downtown. Yet the heart of Yaletown remains Davie and Mainland streets, where Canada Line trains shuttle passengers to and from Vancouver International Airport.
West Point Grey ■ West of Alma Street, overlooking Jericho, Locarno and Spanish Banks beaches, West Point Grey attracts both prosperous professionals and students. Once its own municipality, West Point Grey is home to some of the most expensive properties in the city. An influx of new owners has led to the redevelopment of many properties, while students attending the neighbouring University of British Columbia (UBC) rent others. Shops, restaurants and services cluster around West 10th Avenue and Sasamat Street. Transit routes run along the key east-west streets, connecting residents to UBC and downtown.
University ■ UBC’s campus on the western edge of West Point Grey is home to some of the city’s best-known cultural jewels as well as a fast-growing residential community. Comprising more than 3,000 acres, the UBC campus, the University Endowment Lands and Pacific Spirit Regional Park provide a refuge from city life and connection with the city’s ancient forests and bogs. Wesbrook Village, the newest neighbourhood on campus, is home to shops and restaurants that give the neighbourhood its own flair.
Kitsilano ■ Kitsilano (“Kits” to locals) is conveniently located between West Point Grey and downtown. The neighbourhood is a crossroads for people from all walks of life who can be found mingling at Kitsilano Beach, in the upscale restaurants and boutiques of West 4th Avenue, or at the neighbourhood’s annual Khatsahlano and Greek Day festivals. Transit along West 4th Avenue and Broadway connects with SkyTrain, while cycling is a popular means of transportation.
Off-leash dog area at Kitsilano's Vanier Park | Tourism Vancouver/Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce
Dunbar, MacKenzie Heights, Southlands ■ Southlands is a riverfront neighbourhood south of Southwest Marine Drive that’s home to riverfront trails, equestrian estates and the city’s last remaining agricultural land. This secluded corner of Vancouver is a bucolic contrast to the established single-family neighbourhoods of Dunbar and MacKenzie Heights with their manicured lawns and city views. West 41st Avenue and Dunbar Street are key arteries and home to shops, services and transit connections.
Arbutus Ridge ■ This affluent, family-friendly neighbourhood has welcomed an influx of apartments in recent years that complement a well-established stock of single-family homes. A generous mix of parks and community centres attracts young children and seniors, while stunning views continue to draw buyers in the prime of life. A greenway through the Arbutus corridor is a new and evolving amenity. Arbutus Shopping Centre, the main retail complex, anchors the neighbourhood with its central location, while buses provide links to UBC, downtown and SkyTrain.
Shaughnessy, Kerrisdale, Quilchena ■ The tony precincts of Shaughnessy, Kerrisdale and Quilchena have historically been home to some of Vancouver’s most affluent residents and the estates designed to preserve their privacy. Some of the city’s priciest properties are located here, many enjoying protected heritage status, beneath the boughs of ancient trees that speak to the area’s old-fashioned splendour and prestige. Quilchena Park attracts ballplayers and picnic groups; shopping is available on Granville Street and West 41st Avenue. Students take public transit to local schools and UBC, but private vehicles carry the rest.
Fairview, False Creek, Mount Pleasant West ■ Together, these three neighbourhoods are the heart of the Broadway corridor, which boasts the region’s largest cluster of offices outside of downtown Vancouver. Vancouver General Hospital, life science companies and tech stars such as Hootsuite provide jobs for the professionals and families who call the area home. Townhomes and low-rise apartment blocks dominate, but highrises along False Creek are part of the area’s evolution. A cut more expensive than areas farther east, homes are within walking distance of Granville Island and transit services.
Grandview, Mount Pleasant East ■ Grandview and Mount Pleasant East are the heart of working-class Vancouver, with warehouses, rail lines and port lands just a few blocks away. Development of the Great Northern Way Campus is transforming the area into a high-tech hub, boosting its popularity with young professionals, and city planners have opened the door to fresh housing development to the east. SkyTrain, express buses and feeder routes to the Trans-Canada Highway place the area within a short distance of neighbourhoods across the city and region.
Cambie, Oakridge, South Cambie ■ Convenient connections to Vancouver International Airport and downtown, as well as proximity to Oakridge Centre and Langara College, contribute to the appeal of housing in this trio of west-side neighbourhoods. Redevelopment promises to add a host of new community amenities, complementing Queen Elizabeth Park, the highest point in Vancouver, and VanDusen Botanical Garden. Students appreciate the area’s transit connections to Langara College and UBC.
South Granville, Southwest Marine ■ The south end of Granville Street overlooks the Fraser River and is home to a mix of single-family homes and rental apartments. The area’s appeal lies in its proximity to the airport and home prices that compare favourably to neighbouring Shaughnessy and Kerrisdale. Riverside trails off Southwest Marine Drive and the expansive Fraser River Park provide recreational opportunities. The neighbourhood is underserved by transit, making a vehicle essential for getting around.
Marpole ■ Marpole, long known for aging walk-ups, is undergoing a transformation as highrise towers take root. Situated between downtown Vancouver and Richmond, Marpole is an ideal bedroom community with a tight-knit spirit. A new marina and bar add to local amenities, which include riverfront trails and parks. Proximity to the airport and highway connections to the U.S. complement transit, making Marpole a home for people on the go.
East Vancouver (Main, Fraser, Knight, Victoria) ■ East of Queen Elizabeth Park and south of 16th Avenue, the vibrant East Vancouver neighbourhoods of Main, Fraser and Knight streets and Victoria Drive are home to relatively affordable single-family homes and a growing number of new low-rise apartments. A rich mix of cultures means everything from congee to kielbasa is available in local shops. Better yet, it’s just 20 minutes from downtown by transit or bicycle.
Fraserview, Champlain, Killarney, South Vancouver ■ Fraserview, Champlain, Killarney and South Vancouver are oriented to the Fraser River, where the River District development is creating a new residential community with up to 10,000 people. Better transit services and paths for urban hikers and bikers are taking shape, but a vehicle remains essential for crossing the city. Affordable housing has made these neighbourhoods ideal for immigrants and young families.
Hastings, Hastings East ■ Running from the downtown core to Burnaby, Hastings Street includes both the underprivileged and the up-and-coming. Railtown and the shopping area east of Nanaimo Street showcase the city’s industrial roots and immigrant cultures. In between, craft breweries and condos are fuelling urban renewal. Hastings Park offers a swath of green space on the edge of Burnaby. Transit routes link Hastings Street with Simon Fraser University, North Vancouver and Port Coquitlam.
Renfrew, Renfrew Heights, Collingwood ■ Grandview Highway and a pair of SkyTrain lines cut across this easternmost trio of neighbourhoods, creating a convenient alternative to areas farther south. Grandview is the commercial heart of the area, with Broadway Tech Centre, film studios and light manufacturing supporting well-paying jobs, while transit provides links to downtown and Burnaby’s office parks.
Not Your Average Suburbs
Vancouver’s immediate neighbours have unique histories, characters
Totem poles against a sweeping view of Burnaby and Vancouver from Burnaby Mountain | Edwin Christopher/Shutterstock
Burnaby, Richmond and New Westminster are Vancouver’s closest neighbours this side of the Fraser River. Cities in their own right, they look onto the working waterfront of the Fraser River like three amigos, each with its own personality. A range of services and amenities lets them stand shoulder to shoulder with the region’s core metropolis at the heart of Metro Vancouver. Thanks to rapid transit connections, all three municipalities are enjoying boom times from the region’s outward growth – something likely to continue for decades to come.
Burnaby or bust ■ Immediately east of Vancouver, Burnaby is B.C.’s third-largest municipality and home to the province’s biggest mall, Metropolis at Metrotown. Yet the city is defined by transit routes that carry commuters to stations across Burnaby in as little as 25 minutes. These facilitate travel to the city’s two post-secondary institutions, Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), with their programs in the arts, sciences and trades, as well as business parks in the Still Creek and Lake City locales. Complementing the transit lines, upgrades to the Trans-Canada Highway have eased congestion and improved access to offices and industrial parks on the Fraser River to the south.
The banks of the Fraser River are also home to walking trails that offer verdant retreats steps from offices and warehouses. Indeed, the city boasts one of the highest ratios of parkland to residents in North America. Burnaby Lake and Deer Lake parks in the heart of the community are also popular venues for festivals and arts events.
Metropolis at Metrotown is not the only game in town when it comes to shopping. The city’s triple crown includes the Lougheed Town Centre and Brentwood Town Centre developments. Residential developments around all three malls take advantage of the amenities they offer as well as transit lines to draw homebuyers from around the world. Metrotown is also a hub for office development, drawing in workers who can find a cosmopolitan range of options for lunch in the surrounding streets. Whether it’s Italian cuisine in Burnaby Heights or Chinese fare at eateries in Crystal Mall, the local restaurant scene is as varied and multicultural as the city’s residents.
Strike it Richmond ■ Vancouver’s southern sister features fabulous retailers and exciting attractions. Alexandra Road boasts 200-plus restaurants within three blocks, while the International Summer Night Market is a slice of Asia’s vibrant street life.
The visually stunning Olympic Oval offers public skating adjacent to riverside trails that wind around the city to historic Steveston, one of the city’s enduring attractions. Historic sites such as the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, Britannia Heritage Shipyard and London Heritage Farm preserve the area’s roots as a farming and fishing community, a place where the day’s catch can still be bought fresh off the boats of local fishers not far from where Belted Galloway cattle of the Steves Farm graze coastal pastures.
Richmond is a first stop for immigrants travelling through Vancouver International Airport, located on Sea Island at the mouth of the middle arm of the Fraser River. A visible reminder of the city’s cultural diversity is the more than 60 temples, mosques, churches and chapels located in the city, many of which congregate along No. 5 Road (known locally as the “Highway to Heaven”).
The Richmond Night Market, open during the summer months, attracts visitors from around the world for its ethnic food and entertainment | Ronnie Chua/Shutterstock
Rapid transit connections to both downtown Vancouver and Surrey make getting around easy, but numerous big-box stores as well as the Richmond, Aberdeen and Yaohan shopping centres mean residents never have to travel far to find whatever they’re seeking. The outlet shops of McArthurGlen on Sea Island serve travellers staying at the area’s several airport-oriented hotels.
Work is also a local affair, with No. 3 Road designated as the spot for new office development alongside existing office and industrial parks in East Richmond. The city is also home to farms, food processors and distribution facilities that serve the region, and the world.
With a large stock of single-family homes and several highrise developments, not to mention campuses for Kwantlen Polytechnic University, BCIT and Trinity Western University, as well as nearly 50 choices for elementary and secondary schooling, Richmond is the educated choice for many families.
Go New West ■ The original capital of B.C., New Westminster is a city of nearly 72,000 people that retains the friendliness of its frontier roots. Those roots are celebrated in events such as the annual Hyack Festival, originally held in 1870 and said to be the longest-running May Day celebration of its kind in the Commonwealth. Similarly, RiverFest pays annual tribute to the Fraser River that edges a large portion of town. Other public parties include a culture crawl, music festival, food truck festival, Victorian Christmas and multicultural fest.
SkyTrain loops through the city from neighbouring Burnaby, connecting New Westminster with the SFU campus on Burnaby Mountain as well as with Surrey on the opposite side of the Fraser River. In between, workers hop on and off on their way to the city’s 13 neighbourhoods. Among the most popular with young families is Queensborough, which lies off transit but close to cycling paths and job opportunities. Older neighbourhoods on the north shore of the Fraser offer heritage homes and family-run shops. The revitalized River Market at the foot of 8th Street, with its mix of artisans and food vendors, anchors the emerging communities along the bustling waterfront with its boardwalk.
A dozen primary and secondary schools lay a local foundation for learning, while post-secondary institutions include Douglas College, the Justice Institute of BC and the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine.
For entertainment, there’s the long-established Royal City Musical Theatre players at the Massey Theatre and comedy or mystery shows on Queen’s Park’s stages. The park’s sports arena is home to the New Westminster Salmonbellies, one of the oldest professional lacrosse teams in Canada.
On the Slopes
The North Shore offers mountainside luxury, waterfront ambience
SeaBus crosses Burrard Inlet from downtown Vancouver toward North Vancouver and its snowy mountain backdrop | Romakoma/Shutterstock
Three in one and one in three, a trinity of communities lies at the foot of the Coast Mountains north of Burrard Inlet. Known collectively as the North Shore, the city of West Vancouver and the city and district of North Vancouver were established as a single entity in 1891. Prosperity at the turn of the century led to the formation of the city of North Vancouver as the commercial core of the region in 1907, while West Vancouver, wishing to distinguish itself from the industrial zone east of the Capilano River, separated in 1912.
Today, the three municipalities are home to a multicultural population that tends to stick close to home, often working at neighbourhood businesses or in one of the many commercial areas along the waterfront. Rush hour on the Lions Gate and Ironworkers Memorial bridges is defined more by when parents take children to school than by workers commuting to downtown. The homes clustered along the ragged shore from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove form several close-knit communities, including Eagle Harbour, Caulfeild, Lynn Valley and Maplewood.
North Vancouver ■ North Vancouver is really two municipalities – the city and district – under one moniker. Together, the pair occupy the area east of the Capilano River. The city includes the commercial heart along Lonsdale Avenue north to 29th Street, as well as the area from MacKay Road in the west to Mountain Highway in the east. The district, simply put, is everything else.
Highrises clustered in the Lower Lonsdale area define the city, which stretches north along the spine of Lonsdale Avenue to 29th Street. Upscale restaurants and condos to rival Yaletown’s give way to family-run shops and restaurants, but redevelopment is bringing new amenities and employment opportunities.
Capilano Mall and Park & Tilford serve as retail bookends for the city, with new shops providing exciting new opportunities along Marine Drive west of MacKay Road. The Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier is popular with visitors, while shops along Lonsdale Avenue offer plenty of goods and services. Lonsdale is also home to several galleries, but the best known is the Presentation House Gallery on Chesterfield Avenue, part of an arts centre within the city.
The district is a larger municipality dominated by single-family residences ranging from mountainside villas to creekside cottages. Some properties, especially around Deep Cove, rival the luxury homes of West Vancouver, while others are older homes slated for redevelopment and densification. High-density construction on former industrial sites in the Seylynn area is extending urban amenities from Lower Lonsdale to other parts of the municipality.
Mount Seymour is a favoured winter destination for skiers and snowboarders, while the famous Grouse Grind takes hikers up Grouse Mountain. A rite of passage (and endurance test) for local residents, it’s a great place to mingle with the locals while getting in touch with nature. The 48-kilometre Baden-Powell Trail runs from Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay, connecting bikers, joggers and hikers with West Vancouver and the North Shore’s natural splendour.
West Vancouver ■ A city of many neighbourhoods, West Vancouver encompasses both the toniest and most rustic areas of Metro Vancouver. A short distance from downtown, it offers homes synonymous with the West Coast’s good life. Ocean views from forest-clad slopes just below the Cypress Mountain ski area make West Vancouver a retreat as well as a wealthy suburb where the amenities of the Dundarave and Ambleside neighbourhoods offer quaint, old-time shopping experiences. Ambleside Park is a key venue for festivals and home to a popular dog park. A seawall promenade connects it with Dundarave farther west. Several community centres provide indoor recreational facilities.
West Vancouver's Dundarave Beach features a popular promenade for walking, with residential towers and Lions Gate Bridge in the distance | Josef Hanus/Shutterstock
Horseshoe Bay is home to a busy marina and ferry connections to Bowen Island, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. The secluded enclave of Eagle Harbour is home to the West Vancouver Yacht Club, and nearby Lighthouse Park provides a touch of unspoiled wilderness for those not keen to follow the trails leading above to Eagle Bluffs.
Caulfeild Elementary and Rockridge Secondary schools are the choice for many West Vancouver students, but plenty of other top-rated options exist, including Mulgrave and Sentinel Secondary schools.
Park Royal is the municipality’s premier retail destination and Canada’s oldest enclosed shopping centre. An ambitious redevelopment of the mall’s south side has added exciting new retail and entertainment space. The mall is also the hub for West Vancouver’s iconic Blue Buses that link the North Shore with downtown Vancouver and Horseshoe Bay.
The Fabulous Five
Rustic living is an easy commute from Vancouver by car or public transit
Coquitlam city centre, as seen from above in 2015 | City of Coquitlam/Jon Benjamin Photography
Clustered at the foot of the Garibaldi Ranges lies a cluster of five communities – Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and the trio collectively known as the Tri-Cities – offering a blend of urban charms and rural simplicity a mere hour from downtown Vancouver. Situated east of North Vancouver, at the head of Burrard Inlet, the area is linked to the rest of the region by Lougheed Highway (Highway 7) and the Golden Ears Bridge, just a 30-minute drive from the U.S. border. The new Evergreen Extension brings SkyTrain service to Coquitlam, connecting commuters with the West Coast Express rail service that links the area with downtown Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
Three’s company ■ Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, collectively known as the Tri-Cities, have seen a boom in residential development in recent years in anticipation of the Evergreen rapid transit line running north from Burnaby. While the multimillion-dollar homes in Coquitlam’s ritzy Westwood Plateau area may not suit every budget, the duplexes of River Heights and towers of Coquitlam Centre offer more affordable options. Best of all, more development is coming because it’s among the region’s most popular and affordable destinations.
The westernmost municipality, Port Moody, sits on Burrard Inlet and offers local residents picture-perfect conditions for a plethora of water sports, including swimming, boating and cold-water scuba diving. Cultural pursuits are abundant here, too, earning Port Moody the moniker City of the Arts. An annual film festival in March and July’s Golden Spike Days Festival, which celebrates the city’s railroading roots, are key events.
Commercial activities occur mostly in Newport Village, home to urban condo towers, while single-family housing is available in the College Park, Glenayre and Harbour Heights neighbourhoods.
Coquitlam, just east of Port Moody on Highway 7, is home to a large francophone community. The annual Festival du Bois in Maillardville celebrates the city’s distinctive cultural character, and several French-language schools are a legacy of the city’s forebears.
Port Coquitlam, once a heavily rural area, is now a large residential community with a variety of industrial and commercial activities, including metal fabrication, technology and transportation. Nevertheless, it retains a rustic, relaxed feel. Residents and visitors alike flock to its expansive parkland and extensive trail network. Cultural activities are also a draw: Port Coquitlam plays host to open-air concerts, farmers markets, parades and public festivals all year long.
Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows ■ Across the Pitt River from the Tri-Cities lie Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, close-knit communities known for their large berry plantations and stunning alpine vistas. A quick 45-minute drive east of Vancouver, the two cities are home to 95,000 residents and a range of housing, employment and recreational opportunities. From trout fishing in Pitt Lake to hiking in nearby Golden Ears Provincial Park, outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do when the workday’s through.
Maple Ridge’s expanding downtown core is a hub of shops and services, while significant warehouse development at Pitt Meadows Airport is yielding well-paying employment opportunities. A number of incentives are helping attract fresh commercial and residential development to Maple Ridge, building on the city’s established mill sector.
The communities’ rustic roots provide inspiration for many local artisans, from food processors to artists. Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge host more than a dozen public festivals and celebrations each year, from art studio tours to sports events, trade shows, farmers markets and outdoor concerts.
Delta, Surrey and Langley attract those looking for affordable housing
Crescent Beach in South Surrey is one of the best spots in Metro Vancouver to catch the sunset | Tourism Surrey/Christopher Bradford
The area south of the Fraser River is just 45 minutes from downtown Vancouver yet a world apart. Affordable housing that draws young families and a rich mix of cultures boosts population growth, making this one of the province’s fastest-growing regions. Jobs run the gamut from office and professional work to highly skilled blue-collar opportunities in agriculture, manufacturing and distribution. Universities have fostered clusters of technology companies, while significant investments in local road and rail networks support connections with Vancouver’s port.
Recreational opportunities and summer festivals abound, offering room to play as well as work. Transportation connections, the Golden Ears Bridge and the expanded Port Mann Bridge place the region at the centre of the Lower Mainland and make it a crossroads for traffic from across the country or travelling to and from the U.S.
Delta, port of call ■ Sitting on the south bank of the Fraser River, Delta encompasses the communities of Tsawwassen, Ladner and North Delta. It also neighbours Tsawwassen First Nation, which is undertaking ambitious residential and industrial developments, not to mention two major new shopping malls. Tsawwassen is largely residential, while Ladner is home to the municipality’s administrative centre and Roberts Bank, slated for a major new container terminal. Agriculture is also a significant industry, supplying greenhouse vegetables, berries and field crops to Vancouver and the world. Commercial development adjacent to the new South Fraser Perimeter Road, which provides a beeline from Tsawwassen to Langley, promises residents job opportunities well into the future, while housing and amenities keep pace.
North Delta is home to a vibrant mix of cultures and shops and housing that is typically cheaper than in Tsawwassen or Ladner. Situated along the Fraser River, it includes Annieville, the area’s historic heart, as well as numerous parks and conservation areas boasting networks of walking and cycling trails. Here, as throughout the municipality, agricultural land doubles as green space. Highway 99 and the Tsawwassen ferry terminal connect Delta with the U.S. and Vancouver Island.
Surrey, the central city ■ Surrey, designated by regional planners as home of the region’s second downtown, is the southeastern terminus of the region’s SkyTrain rapid transit line. A new civic centre and highrise condos mark the city’s core, which lies at the heart of a swath of industrial land. Highway 1 and the South Fraser Perimeter Road are key east-west transportation routes that provide rapid access from Surrey to surrounding municipalities and ports.
Subdivisions, farmland and parks stretch south to the Canada-U.S. border, a lush backyard to the city’s urban core. Morgan Crossing, Grandview Corners and other shopping destinations anchor residential communities, while Campbell Valley Regional Park and the White Rock waterfront offer recreational opportunities. Cloverdale, which has a long farming history, is home to a new night market.
Surrey is home to several well-regarded public and private schools, as well as campuses of Simon Fraser University and Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
Langley, city and township ■ Langley is a blend of urban and rural streetscapes where the bustling
200 Street commercial corridor contrasts with the secluded acreages south of 8 Avenue. The city encompasses Langley’s commercial heart, while the township is a separate municipality where bucolic equestrian acreages sit alongside prosperous berry farms. Wineries and roadside stands are popular tourist stops, and a chance for locals to stock up, too.
Relatively cheap land prices keep local housing in demand and have also attracted warehouses with their well-paying jobs. Pitt Meadows and other municipalities north of the Fraser are now within the ambit of Langley residents thanks to the Golden Ears Bridge. U.S. border crossings in Surrey and Aldergrove are minutes away.
Transit connections link the Langleys to SkyTrain in Surrey, while Highway 10 leads to Delta and the Tsawwassen ferry terminal. Abbotsford International Airport, a short distance east, is a convenient alternative to Vancouver International Airport, thanks to regular WestJet schedules.
In addition to primary and secondary schools, the Langleys are home to internationally acclaimed Trinity Western University and Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s School of Horticulture.
A rich farming heritage gives the Fraser Valley a sustainable edge
Historic downtown Abbotsford | Tourism Abbotsford
The Fraser Valley, an hour’s drive from Vancouver via the Trans-Canada Highway, accounts for more than half of B.C.’s agricultural revenue. But if Abbotsford has historically laid claim to being the raspberry capital of Canada, urban amenities are sweetening the pie for major centres in Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack.
Absolute Abbotsford ■ Abbotsford lies roughly 70 kilometres east of Vancouver on Highway 1 and is home to an international airport that many consider a convenient alternative to Vancouver International Airport. Aerospace and transportation companies have joined farming among the area’s most important industries, and they provide local jobs, too: 60 per cent of Abbotsford’s 141,500 residents work locally, making for an easy commute.
The city’s stock of residential housing has increased in response to the economic growth, offering a range of options for young families and first-time buyers. Keeping pace with residential growth, Abbotsford School District operates 46 public elementary, middle and secondary schools. The city is also home to a campus of the University of the Fraser Valley.
Shopping includes farm stands and markets selling locally grown produce, while downtown features a variety of local retailers. Sumas Way and the new Highstreet development at the Mount Lehman interchange are home to many brand-name retailers.
Rural pursuits such as four-wheeling are big here, but fitness junkies can hike up Sumas Mountain or try the Abby Grind up Glen Ryder Trail. Those who wish to sit back and watch others play can take in two of the city’s most popular annual events: the Abbotsford International Airshow and Abbotsford Agrifair.
Mission possible ■ The district of Mission, on the north bank of the Fraser River east of Maple Ridge and opposite Abbotsford, is home to 39,000 residents. Commuters can either travel the Lougheed Highway through Maple Ridge and the Tri-Cities to reach Vancouver or hop on the West Coast Express commuter train. The train connects with the Evergreen rapid transit line in Port Moody, where passengers can make links to Burnaby, New Westminster and Surrey.
Unlike other Fraser Valley municipalities, Mission is mostly forested; more than 40 per cent of the district has been a municipal tree farm for more than 50 years, and the forestry sector remains a significant employer. Other jobs lie in manufacturing and hydroelectricity.
Mission celebrates its history through a number of heritage sites, including the Xa:ytem Longhouse Interpretive Centre at Hatzic Rock, one of the oldest inhabited sites in B.C. Westminster Abbey, a Benedictine monastery established in 1939, is home to approximately 30 monks who operate a seminary and raise cattle, pigs and chickens on more than 70 hectares of land.
The town itself features many roadside stands and farm markets. A thriving arts community welcomes visitors to its studios while boutique retailers and family-friendly eateries round out the offerings. Mission also hosts many public events at its Fraser River Heritage Park, including a folk festival, twilight concerts and car shows. The Mission Candlelight Parade, Canada’s largest night parade, occurs annually in December.
Chilliwack checks in ■ Since its establishment in 1873, Chilliwack has grown from a rural community to a vibrant city of 87,000 people with many distinct neighbourhoods. Bordered by mountains and recreational areas such as Cultus Lake and Chilliwack Lake provincial parks, it’s a great place to relax and connect with nature. Some of the province’s warmest daytime temperatures let residents enjoy a variety of outdoor activities year-round, from field sports to hiking. Chilliwack is also a centre for arts and culture, with two classical orchestras and thousands of artists and artisans.
The city hosts a variety of cultural events throughout the year, including the Chilliwack International Film Series. The local arts council offers classes in dance, cooking and theatre, and organizes its popular Chilliwack Christmas Craft Market in December. Vedder Road is the key shopping strip, while the city’s historic downtown features specialty stores and a weekly farmers market. The epicentre of B.C.’s hops renaissance, Chilliwack is also home to craft brewers including Old Yale and Chaos & Solace.