Vancouver is a city of contrasts that make it alluring to visitors and a constant source of discussion among residents. The backdrop of rugged mountains and civilized streetscapes, the leaden skies of winter and expansive blue firmament of summer, and even the way the haves and have-nots collide within blocks of each other in the downtown core create the vibrant environment of a city caught between working-class roots and upscale aspirations. Even the city’s reputation for high housing costs is countered by commitments to affordable housing programs that somehow make space for all. Canada’s gateway to the Pacific, the city is a vibrant mix of cultures that find space to live, work and play in a landscape still largely untamed. Downtown hotels are 30 minutes from backcountry hiking, with all its perils. To the east, farmland supplies a rich array of crops for chefs to craft world-renowned fare. Contemporary urban density blending homes and workspaces creates a compact city that’s also permeable, thanks to a network of bike paths and walking paths of which the crown jewel is the city’s famous seawall. The various transportation networks weave together more than 35 different neighborhoods, including the Point Grey campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC, which lies outside city limits but within the purview of key city services, such as fire and transit). A distinct character in each contributes to the favour of the whole, from the genteel refinement of Point Grey to the grit of Hastings Street and the spirit of renewal that permeates the riverfront lands in Killarney. This isn’t just a city where people move; it’s also a city on the move. DOWNTOWN Q Vancouver enjoys one of the most livable downtowns in the world. Office towers and condos stand side by side, defining high-density West Coast living without the overwhelming density of cities like Hong Kong.
Gastown, the city’s starting point, and Chinatown are the area’s core residential neighborhoods, home to chic restaurants and contemporary residences that bridge the city’s past and future. Rogers Arena and BC Place, the city’s largest sports and entertainment venues, are a short distance from galleries and theatres. Trains, buses, float planes and ferries lead to destinations throughout the province.