Greater Vancouver: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the metropolitan region including Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. For the regional district organization governing municipal services and inter-municipal cooperation in this region see Metro Vancouver.
Greater Vancouver
—  metropolitan area  —
A view from Arbutus Ridge, Vancouver
Coordinates: 49°14′58″N 122°58′47″W / 49.24944°N 122.97972°W / 49.24944; -122.97972
Country  Canada
Province  British Columbia
Location of head office Burnaby
 - Senators
 - Total 2,700 km2 (1,042.5 sq mi)
Elevation 60 m (197 ft)
Population (2006)[1]
 - Total 2,116,581
 - Density 735.6/km2 (1,905.2/sq mi)
  Canadian CD rank: 2nd
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
Website Metro Vancouver

Municipalities in the Greater Vancouver region

Greater Vancouver is the name for the metropolitan region surrounding the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, roughly coterminous with the Greater Vancouver Regional District, which is governed by a body known as Metro Vancouver. Greater Vancouver as a term predates the existence of the regional district (created in 1966) and is often used to include areas beyond the boundaries of the regional district, and also does not generally include wilderness and agricultural areas within that regional district. As a geographic region, it is part of the Lower Mainland, one of British Columbia's three main geospatial/cultural divisions and overlaps with the Lower Fraser Valley, with the Central and Upper Fraser Valley areas to the east being in the Fraser Valley Regional District, which was created from two others upon the expansion of the Greater Vancouver Regional District to include Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. Other modes of regional governance and administration which Greater Vancouver is covered by are the North Vancouver and Coquitlam Forests Districts, the Ministry of Environment's Lower Mainland Region (which includes the Sunshine Coast, the Fraser Health Authority and the New Westminster Land District, among others. Private corporate and non-profit organizations often include adjoining towns and cities such as Mission, Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Squamish within their use of the term "Greater Vancouver", though since the creation of the term "Metro Vancouver", that has come to be used in the media interchangeably with the name of the region and/or regional district, even though it technically only refers to the governing body of the regional district. As a term, "Greater Vancouver" tends to refer in local use to urban and suburban areas only, and does not include parts of the regional district such as Bowen Island, although industries such as the film industry even include Squamish, Whistler and Hope as being in "the Vancouver area" or "in Greater Vancouver".



Greater Vancouver occupies the southwest corner of mainland British Columbia. It comprises roughly the western half of the Lower Mainland and sits astride the lower reaches of the Fraser River and both banks of Burrard Inlet.

Thirteen of the province's thirty most populous municipalities are located in Greater Vancouver.[2] The official land area of the district is 2,877.36 square kilometres (1,111 sq mi). It is the most densely populated region in British Columbia.

See Metro Vancouver#Municipalities for a list of municipalities in the region.

There are also seventeen Indian reserves within the geographical area that are not subject to governance by the municipalities or the Regional District; they have a combined population of 7,550 (2006) and are governed by the Squamish Nation, Musqueam Nation, Tsleil-waututh First Nation, Tsawwassen First Nation, Semiahmoo Indian Band, Qayqayt First Nation, Kwikwetlem First Nation, Katzie First Nation and Kwantlen First Nation.

The cities of Abbotsford and Chilliwack and the district of Mission, located to the east, although often linked to Vancouver in promotions and tourism and in various non-official usages, as are Squamish and Whistler to the region's north.


Population density map of Greater Vancouver.

According to the 2001 census, 1,986,965 people lived in the metropolitan area, about half of the population of British Columbia. The 2006 Census has placed the population at 2,116,581, representing 6.5% growth since the last census.[3]

In 2006, the Greater Vancouver CMA had a population of 2,116,581 living in 870,992 dwellings. The Greater Vancouver Regional District has a land area of 2,877.36 km2 (1,111.0 sq mi) and a population density of 735.6 /km2 (1,905.2/sq mi).[1]

The population of Greater Vancouver is diverse in many ways. There is a high percentage of visible minorities in the region, though European ("white") minorities such as Germans, Dutch and Slavic and Mediterranean peoples are equallynumerous, both historically and in terms of new immigration. Census 2006 showed that nearly 41.7% of the population were of visible minority origin, the largest group being the Chinese followed by South Asians. Other prominent groups include Filipinos, Koreans, Japanese, Southeast Asian, West Asian, and Latin Americans.[4] British Columbia is Canada's most ethnically diverse province. [5]

Politics and Government



Federally, the electorate in the Greater Vancouver region elect Conservative, New Democratic, and Liberal Members of Parliaments. Liberal support is strongest and concentrated around downtown areas of Vancouver, while Conservative support is stronger in the more suburban areas of the Lower Mainland. The NDP has a strong base both in Vancouver and the suburbs. In the 2009 election, residents of the region elected 10 Conservative MP's (mainly from suburbs such as Richmond), 5 NDP MP's (such as Vancouver East), and 4 Liberal MP's (such as Vancouver Quadra).


Provincial representation, Greater Vancouver like the rest of British Columbia is divided between the BC Liberals and the BC NDP. The BC Liberals are ideologically centre-right and are not associated with the federal Liberal Party of Canada, as they include many otherwise Conservative members, while the BC NDP provide a centre-left alternative. The BC Liberals dominate in West Vancouver and certain suburbs, while BC NDP support is strong in East Vancouver and suburban areas such as New Westminster.

Visible minority representatives

Due to the region's ethnically diverse population, there is also diverse government representation. Federally, there are five MP's of visible minority origin: three of South Asian descent, one of Chinese descent, and one of Trinidadian descent. Provincially, there are six South Asian, three Chinese, one Japanese, and one Filipino MLA's.

The Greater Vancouver region has many "electoral firsts". Former Indo-Canadian Premier Ujjal Dosanjh was the first non-white premier of the province, while Douglas Jung was the first Chinese-Canadian to become a Member of Parliament. Yonah Martin is the first Korean-Canadian to hold federal public office. Jenny Kwan is the first Chinese-Canadian provincial cabinet minister in Canada. Naomi Yamamoto and Mable Elmore are respectively the first Japanese and Filipino MLA's in the province. Furthermore, Stephanie Cadieux is the first quadriplegic MLA, while Svend Robinson was the first openly-gay Canadian MP.

"Invisible minorities" (those from "white" ethnic and cultural groups) also feature strongly in the region's electoral history, most notably former Premier William Vander Zalm, of Dutch origin, while Vancouver's second mayor was Robert Oppenheimer, an East European Jew. Similarly, former Premier Dave Barrett was the MLA for East Vancouver and is of Jewish origin.


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Lower Mainland article)

From Wikitravel

The Lower Mainland is in British Columbia, Canada. The official tourist information site [1] calls the area "Vancouver, Coast and Mountains".

The term "lower mainland" can have different interpretations; for some people it is equivalent to a "Greater Vancouver", while others would include everything out to Abbotsford or even Hope in the east. Here we use it to describe the area from Vancouver in the west to Hope in the east, and from the American border to the south, to the town of Whistler and the Sunshine Coast to the north.

Cities and regions in the Lower Mainland
Cities and regions in the Lower Mainland
A beautiful, vibrant city with diverse neighbourhoods, a very multi-cultural and cosmopolitan city — and the political core of the Lower Mainland and economic core of the province.
Vancouver eastern suburbs
A series of towns north of the Fraser River and east of the Pitt River, all fairly urban and defined by their relationship to Vancouver. This region includes Burnaby and New Westminster; the Tri-Cities of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody ("PoCoMo"); and Anmore and Belcarra villages.
Vancouver southern suburbs
The area between the Fraser River and the US border, where much of the Lower Mainland's population growth and suburban sprawl takes place. It includes the towns of Surrey, Richmond, Delta, and White Rock.
North Shore
Where dense urban meets dramatic tall mountains. Contains the separate municipalities of North Vancouver and West Vancouver, but they are in practice one destination. The mountains provide attractions like Grouse Mountain ski resort. At the west of the North Shore is Horseshoe Bay, ferry terminal to the Sunshine Coast.
Fraser Valley
The Fraser River, which gives the valley its name, is the world's greatest salmon producing river, and a focus for the region's economy, transportation and culture. The valley also has lush fertile farmland, which contributes a large portion of the local produce. The towns of Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, and Langley (British Columbia)
Sea to Sky
The region stretches from Lions Bay (just north of Horseshoe Bay), up the east side of Howe Sound past getaway destination Bowen Island to Squamish, the gateway to BC's magnificent alpine country of forests, lakes, and year round world class outdoor activities. The Sea-to-Sky Highway (Highway 99) clings to the mountainsides, letting you drive from Vancouver to Whistler, one of North America's top ski resorts, in two hours. Further in is Pemberton. The area is rich with archaeological sites and historical lore of the Salish Indians.
Sunshine Coast
Located north-west of Vancouver, a 40 minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay, the region is named for its 2,400 hours of annual sunshine. It is a 180 km (110mi) stretch of rainforest, seashore and mountains. This is the secret destination of many individuals, where the island life is found on the mainland. Here is a slower pace of life, where those who appreciate the beauty of outstanding marine parks and marshland bird sanctuaries, old growth forest and alpine peaks will find this the perfect destination.
Vancouver -- center of the Lower Mainland region.
Vancouver -- center of the Lower Mainland region.


This area is home to Greater Vancouver, the largest metropolitan area west of Toronto. It is also home to the mainly agricultural Fraser Valley and the outdoor playground of the Whistler environs.


The de facto language is English, though you may be able to find official services in French. Chinese (mostly Cantonese) speakers can also be found relatively easily; Cantonese is the second most-spoken language in the city.

YVR, Vancouver International Airport
YVR, Vancouver International Airport

Vancouver International Airport, or YVR as locals sometimes refer to it, is located in Richmond. It serves as the hub airport for Western Canada with frequent flights to other points in British Columbia, major cities across Canada and the United States, Asia and several to Europe . There are a number of ways to get to various Lower Mainland towns from YVR. For more on this airport see "Vancouver International Airport" in the Vancouver article.

There are floatplane facilities located both in the Coal Harbour area of downtown Vancouver (CXH) and at Vancouver International's South Terminal. Floatplanes operated by Harbour Air, Baxter Aviation, Salt Spring Air and West Coast Air fly frequently from downtown Vancouver and/or YVR to Victoria's Inner Harbour, Vancouver Island, the scenic Gulf Islands, Seattle and other local destinations. Finally, Helijet operates helicopter service from the downtown heliport next to Waterfront Station, providing quick and convenient connections to Victoria and YVR. For more on these options see "Floatplane and heliport" in the Vancouver article.

Abbotsford International Airport (YXX), located about 80 km east of Vancouver in Abbotsford, is Vancouver's alternate airport. It handles mostly domestic flights and, with an arranged ride, you can be in and out of this airport in under 10 minutes (with no checked in baggage).

Flying in and out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, most notably for US destinations, and then using the bus for travel to and from Vancouver city is an often less expensive option than buying a direct flight from YVR or YXX due to tariffs and "other" reasons. However depending on your nationality, a US visa may be required and could take some time to procure. For budget travellers, you may wish to consider checking flights to and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The bus or train ride takes about 5 hours one way and driving time is approximately 2.5 to 3 hours.

By car

There are five land border crossing points, between the Lower Mainland and the Northwest Cascades region of Washington state, USA. They are referred to by different terms in Canada and the US.

Land border crossings between the Lower Mainland and the Northwest Cascades
Canadian name US name Location Hours Comments
Douglas (Peace Arch) Blaine (Peace Arch) Surrey/White Rock, BC (Hwy 99) – Blaine, WA (I-5) 24 hours, daily (Nexus: daily, Canada-bound 7am–12am, US-bound 7am–9pm) Primary border crossing point for passenger vehicles. No commercial traffic allowed. Best Nexus lane access. Canadian side is undergoing major street and building construction (July 2008).
Pacific Highway Blaine (Pacific Highway) Surrey, BC (Hwy 15) – Blaine, WA (WA-543) (From Hwy 99 southbound take exit 2A and go along 8 Ave for 1.5km to Hwy 15. From I-5 northbound take exit 275 for WA-543.) 24 hours, daily (Nexus: daily, Canada-bound 2pm–6pm, US-bound 10am–6pm) Also known as "Truck Crossing". Primary border crossing point for trucks and buses. Passenger and foot traffic also welcome, with waits usually shorter than at Peace Arch. Canadian and US Customs offices here are better places to ask questions than Peace Arch. US side has just finished major street improvement (early 2008).
Aldergrove Lynden Aldergrove, BC (Hwy 13) – Lynden, WA (WA-539, the Guide Meridian) Passengers 8am–12am daily. Commercial 8am–4pm Mon–Fri (exc. hols) Due north of Bellingham. Often has shorter lines than Peace Arch and Pacific Highway, but if you are going to or from Vancouver or the western suburbs the longer drive to Aldergrove usually eliminates this benefit.
Huntingdon Sumas Huntingdon, BC (Hwy 11) – Sumas, WA (WA-9) Passengers 24 hours, daily. Commercial 8am–5pm Mon–Fri (exc. hols) Convenient to Abbotsford.
Boundary Bay Point Roberts Delta, BC (56th St) – Point Roberts, WA (Tyee Drive)   (Nexus: daily; Canada-bound 9am–9pm summer, 10am–6pm winter; US-bound 11am–7pm) This crossing is only useful for reaching Point Roberts, the US tip of a Canadian peninsula which extends just south of the 49° N latitude. There is no land access from there to the rest of the USA.

Visitors travelling to Vancouver by car across the U.S. border should be aware that there are often lengthy lineups at the border, in either direction. During summer, waits at the border can exceed three hours during peak times.

Inform yourself about the waits, and you can either delay your crossing until the lines subside, or choose the quickest crossing, or at least set your expectations. You can see official wait time forecasts for both directions on the Canada Border Services Agency website[2], and for US-bound traffic on the US Customs and Border Protection website[3]. It can be helpful to view webcams of the border lineups; Canada-bound on I-5 [4] and US-bound at most crossings[5][6]. Two AM stations give regular updates on border lineups in both directions: News 1130 (1130 on the AM dial) every 10 minutes beginning at one minute past the hour, and AM 730 every 10-15 minutes.

The Nexus Land program[7] lets travellers who fill out an application and pass a security check use express lanes through US-Canada land borders by presenting a Nexus card. However, you may only use the express lanes if everyone in your car has a Nexus card. There are also Nexus programs for air and marine travel.

By bus

The Lower Mainland, especially Vancouver is well served by bus service. There are a number of different bus lines providing service to various cities near and far. Here are a couple of examples:

Pacific Central Station, Vancouver
Pacific Central Station, Vancouver

Unlikely to be the cheapest option, but travelling from Edmonton or Jasper by rail makes for a good way to see the Canadian Rockies. VIA Rail [11] has the Canadian which runs from Toronto to Vancouver with 3 weekly departures. Rocky Mountaineer Vacations also operates trains to Whistler, Banff, and Jasper from April to October.

Amtrak [12] runs a service between Seattle and Vancouver called Amtrak Cascades [13]. Trains depart Seattle daily at 7:40AM and 6:40PM, arriving in Vancouver at 11:35AM and 10:45PM respectively. The return trips leave Vancouver at 6:40AM and 5:45PM.

By boat

There are two ferry terminals serviced by BC Ferries in the Lower Mainland.

Both terminals are far enough from the city core that you will need to travel by car, taxi or bus to get into any regional city from them (and vice-versa). In terms of bus transportation, the various coach services are recommended over public transit. Public buses to and from the ferry terminals are time-consuming and frustrating.

Get around

Depending on how much you want to see, there may be a number of ways to get around the Lower Mainland. Within Vancouver and many of its suburbs, the Translink public transit system can get you to most places. Regional bus companies can take you further afield to places like Whistler and the Sunshine Coast. Vancouver is the hub for these services.

The most convenient means of getting around the region is by car. Highway 1 (the Trans-Canada highway) is the main thoroughfare, providing freeway travel through Vancouver's suburbs into the Fraser Valley and the interior of BC. Highway 99 connects Vancouver with the US border to the south and Whistler to the north. Car rentals are readily available throughout the region.

A number of small airlines operate float planes from Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast and Whistler. These are more expensive than other options, but are faster and more scenic.

Some parts of the Lower Mainland (Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island) can only be accessed by boat. BC Ferries provides ferry services to these areas and visitors can walk on or take their car.


There is so much do and see in the Lower Mainland, the following are only suggestions based on the regions.

Greater Vancouver, home to Stanley Park, Grouse Mountain, the Capilano Suspension Bridge and many more. To see all the sights, take a day tour to become familiar with all the sights. There are a number of sightseeing companies who run trips daily. And also the public transportation is also any easy way to see everything and get into the surrounding commuities. You also can't miss out on the dining experiences, you name it and there is a restaurant in Vancouver to serve it. With award winning and internationally known restaurants, there is always something new to try.

In the Fraser Valley, you are entering into an amazing region which has plenty of stops to fill your stomach. Here you can find a number of award winning wineries and family owned farms. You can sample the fresh fruits and vegetables at a number of stands along the highway or pop into a local restaurant and have a wild salmon dish. You can spend the day driving from each community or you can make a whole weekend of it. The valley offers a great opportunity to relax in the warm waters of Harrison Hot Springs.

Whatever you do while visiting the Sea to Sky region, it will most likely involve some form of adventure outdoors. Here you will find some of the best golfing, skiing, hiking and many other outdoor activities. You can head up to the vibrant Whistler village or find your own mountain paradise.

The Sunshine Coast is your place to relax. Now relaxing means different things to everyone, this could mean sitting on your private B&B patio watching the sunset, or bobbing up and down while waiting for the fish below to take a bit of your bait, but whatever your image of relaxation it is found on the Sunshine Coast. Take a drive up the Sunshine Coast Highway and stop off at the galleries and farmer's markets to pick up some local goodies. But don't bother looking at your watch because here time is no of a concern.


The Lower Mainland is the scene of a quickly exploding food and wine revolution! Adjectives like diverse, fresh, delicious, unique don't even begin to describe the true nature of the region's bounty. World class cuisine from every corner of the globe is readily available throughout the region. West Coast cuisine shares the bill with Asian Fusion, Sushi, Italian, Indian, Mexican, Vegetarian, Chinese, Thai, French, Fish & Chips, Micro Breweries and Fruit Wineries.

Naturally, the region is so close to the Pacific Ocean that it provides a steady supply of the freshest of the fresh seafood. The catch of the day graces the plates of restaurants with famous BC salmon, halibut, cod, crab, scallops and oysters. Prepared simply, fantastically or fantastically simple...enjoy your 'catch of the day' in a fine dining establishment, a trendy eatery, a casual pub or right on the docks.

Farm fresh is a phrase heard repeatedly in the Lower Mainland. Just east of Vancouver is the Fraser Valley, a lush picturesque and productive valley which is home to a multitude of farms working diligently to deliver produce from the farm directly to the plate or to the visitor. Find fresh fruit and vegetables in season, farm-raised meat and eggs and extra special treats like home made jams and jellies.


The Fraser Valley has recently become a popular wine touring destination. Domaine de Chaberton Winery, a fixture in the beautiful south Langley countryside, has recently been joined by a number of other wineries (Township 7, Fort Wine Company, Glenugie Winery, Lotusland Vineyards and the Blue Heron Fruit Winery), all within a short drive of each other and from any location in the region. You can be in wine country in less than one hour drive from downtown Vancouver!

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