West Vancouver on the North Shore
The Canadian City of West Vancouver in the Province of British Columbia is a member municipality of Metro Vancouver, the Greater Vancouver Regional District Government. West Vancouver is northwest of the City of Vancouver on the north shore of English Bay and adjoins the municipality of North Vancouver across the Capilano River to the east where the Lions Gate Bridge over the Burrard Inlet connects both North and West Vancouver to Vancouver to the south.
The 2011 Census reported a West Vancouver population of 42,694, virtually unchanged from 42,131 in 2006, 22 percent aged 65 or older compared to 13 percent for the remainder of the province. What Canadians call “visible minorities,” mostly Asian, also account for 22 percent.
Captain George Vancouver and his crew from HMS Discovery were the first Europeans to chart Burrard Inlet in June 1792. Many more Europeans came in the mid-19th Century Fraser River Gold Rush, and by the 1860s large-scale logging operations were underway on the North Shore.
In 1909 the West Vancouver Transportation Company formed to operate regular ferry service across the inlet to Vancouver Harbour, in 1911 the Presbyterian Church at Dundarave established the first primary school in West Vancouver, and in 1912 West Vancouver separated from North Vancouver and incorporated as a municipality of about 1,500 citizens. In November 1938, the Lions Gate Bridge opened, and extensive population growth followed in the community previously accessible from Vancouver by ferry only. Some West Vancouver homes date to the 1920s and ’30s, but most are from the 1970s on.
Transit and transport services are important to this relatively remote part of Metro Vancouver. The Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal at the western starting point of the Trans-Canada Highway is a main connection between the mainland and Vancouver Island. The Trans-Canada Highway continues east from Horseshoe Bay through West Vancouver into North Vancouver, over the Second Narrows Bridge through Eastside Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, and points east to Atlantic Canada. Highway 99 runs concurrently with the Trans-Canada Highway as far as Taylor Way, where it diverges to the south and crosses the Lions Gate Bridge into Vancouver, Richmond, Delta, and points south to the USA.
The TransLink SkyTrain, the Metro Vancouver rail transit system, has not reached West Vancouver, but the Blue Bus, which began in 1912 and claims to be North America’s oldest municipal system in continuous operation, is part of the TransLink network under the ownership of the municipality. Blue Bus is one of two such contracting bus companies in Metro Vancouver; transfers are free between Blue Buses and other TransLink buses.
Park Royal Shopping Centre
On Marine Drive, West Vancouver’s main commercial drag, near the Lions Gate Bridge to Vancouver, the Park Royal Shopping Centre was Canada’s first in 1950. Enclosed in 1962 and expanded in 1978 and 2013, this mall of several department stores and hundreds of retailers large and small is a major regional Blue Bus and TransLink terminal.
West Vancouver has an 18-hole golf course, a pool, an ice rink, basketball and tennis courts, skateboard zones, and numerous landscaped public parks. Cypress Provincial Park, a 2010 Winter Olympics venue mostly within municipal limits, has mountain biking trails and a large ski/snowboard facility. Cypress Mountain became popular with skiers and mountain cyclists in the 1970s and 1980s. Whytecliff Park near Horseshoe Bay is one of the best places in Western Canada for scuba diving.