|Vancouver B.C. Overview
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Vancouver is a Canadian city in the province of British Columbia. It is the largest metropolitan centre in western Canada and the third largest in the country. Vancouver is one of the cities of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) and of the larger geographic region commonly known as the Lower Mainland of B.C.
The Port of Vancouver is significant on a world scale, and Vancouver is the third largest film production centre for US-based productions in North America after Hollywood and New York, giving it the nickname of Hollywood North. In 2006, Vancouver was ranked the 56th most expensive city to live among 144 major cities in the world, and the 2nd most expensive in Canada (after Toronto).
The city's population is estimated to be 583,267 (2005 est.) and that of the metropolitan area 2,208,300 (2005 est.). Some predict that by 2020, the population of the metropolitan area will be 2.6 million. A resident of Vancouver is called a "Vancouverite."
Vancouver will be the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and the 2009 World Police and Fire Games. Swangard Stadium, just across the city line in Burnaby, will host some games for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Archeological records indicate the presence of Aboriginal peoples in the Vancouver area for at least 3,000 years. The traces of several settlements around Vancouver, indicate a food-gathering people with a complex social system.
The arrival of ships captained by José María Narváez of Spain in 1791 and George Vancouver of Britain the following year, heralded great change for the lives of the First Nations. The explorer and North West Company trader Simon Fraser and his crew were the first Europeans known to have visited the site of the present-day city. In 1808, they descended the Fraser River perhaps as far as Point Grey, near the University of British Columbia. The first European settlement was established in 1862 at McCleery's Farm on the Fraser River, just east of the ancient village of Musqueam in what is now Marpole. A sawmill established at Moodyville
(now North Vancouver) in 1863, began the city's long relationship with lumbering, and was quickly followed by mills on the south shore of the inlet owned by Captain Edward Stamp. Stamp, who had begun lumbering in the Port Alberni area, first attempted to run a mill at Brockton Point, but difficult currents and reefs forced the relocation of the operation to a point near the foot of Dunlevy Street, known as Hastings Mill.
The settlement of Gastown grew up quickly around the original makeshift tavern established by "Gassy" Jack Deighton in 1867 on the edge of the Hastings Mill property. In 1870, the colonial government surveyed the settlement and laid out a townsite, renamed "Granville," in honour of the then British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Granville. This site, with its natural harbour, was eventually selected as the terminus for the Canadian Pacific Railway to the chagrin of Port Moody, New Westminster and Victoria, all of which had vied to be the railhead. The building of the railway was among the
preconditions for British Columbia joining Confederation in 1871. The City of Vancouver was incorporated on April 6, 1886, the same year that the first transcontinental train arrived.
A fire on Sunday, June 13 of that year destroyed most of the city, which was quickly rebuilt. Due to the advent of the railway, the population increased rapidly from 5,000 in 1887 to 100,000 in 1900. During the first decade of the twentieth century, Vancouver's population tripled and along with it came a construction boom and, as Rudyard Kipling noted on his visit to the new city in 1887, the "curious institution...called 'real estate'" and the speculative buying and selling of property. By 1890 the beginnings of one of the world's first electric street railways were promoting growth along what are now the city's main
arterials, powered by ample hydroelectricity generated from nearby rivers and lakes (first at Buntzen Lake, and soon after on the Stave River, and two "interurban" rail lines were built between Vancouver and New Westminster, with one of those lines - all owned and operated by the BC Electric Railway Company, extending through the Fraser Valley to Chilliwack. Another separately-owned interurban line, the Lulu Island Railway, ran via the Arbutus corridor to Richmond from a station near Granville and Drake Streets. The first pavement in British Columbia was the Stanley Park ring road, and was made out of the crushed shells of the large midden at the
old native village of Qwhy-qwhy (Lumberman's Arch); it was paved for use by bicycles, which until the introduction of the autmobile later on were a popular form of transportation. Automobiles were scarce until after World War I due to the distance from the industrial centres of eastern North America.
Vancouver is adjacent to the Strait of Georgia, a body of water that is shielded from the Pacific Ocean by Vancouver Island. It is in the Pacific Time Zone (UTC-8), and the Pacific Maritime Ecozone. The city itself forms part of the Burrard Peninsula, lying between Burrard Inlet to the north and the Fraser River to the south. Those unfamiliar with the region may be surprised to learn that Vancouver is not on Vancouver Island. However, both the island and the city (and its U.S. counterpart) are named after Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver of Great Britain, who explored the region in 1792.
Vancouver has a wet climate and is surrounded by water; while early records show that there may have been as many as fifty creeks and streams in the area, currently only four are left.
Vancouver's climate is unusually temperate by Canadian standards; its winters are the fourth warmest of Canadian cities monitored by Environment Canada, after nearby Victoria, Nanaimo, and Duncan, all of which are found on Vancouver Island. Vancouver has daily minimum temperatures falling below 0C (32F) on an average of 46 days per year and below -10C (14F) on only two days per year. Precipitation varies from about 1,100 mm (43 inches) at Point Grey to 3,500 mm (137 inches) or more near the north shore mountains. Summer months are generally sunny and very dry, often resulting in yellow grass in parks and lawns. Temperatures are moderate. The daily
maximum averages 22C (72F) in July and August, and temperatures rise above 30C (86F) only about once every five summers on average . Recent summers have been getting warmer. Thunderstorms are rare, with zero to about six per year. Rainfall is frequent in winter; more than half of all winter days record measureable precipitation, snowfall much less so, with only 11 winter days averaging any snowfall, and only 3 days with amounts of 6 cm or greater.
Despite it's reputation as a cloudy city (which Vancouverites love to complain about all winter), Vancouver actually averages 288 days with measurable sunshine.[
Vancouver is internationally renowned for its beautiful scenery. Vancouver has one of North America's largest urban parks, Stanley Park. The North Shore mountains dominate the city landscape, and on a clear day scenic vistas include the snow-capped volcano Mount Baker in the State of Washington to the southeast; Vancouver Island across the Strait of Georgia to the west and southwest and the Sunshine Coast to the northwest.
The city of Vancouver has developed a reputation as a tolerant city that is open to social experimentation and alternative lifestyles as well as being willing to explore alternative drug policies. The city has adopted a Four Pillars Drug Strategy, which combines harm reduction (e.g. needle exchanges, supervised injection sites) with treatment, enforcement, and prevention. The strategy is largely a response to endemic HIV and hepatitis C among injection drug users in the city's Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. The area is characterized by entrenched poverty, the commercial sex trade, and an AIDS epidemic that in the 1990s became the worst in the
developed world. Some community and professional groups - such as From Grief to Action and Keeping the Door Open - are fostering public dialogue in the city about further alternatives to current drug policies. The former mayor, Larry Campbell, came to office in 2002 in part because of his willingness to champion alternative interventions for drug issues, such as supervised injection sites. Although it is technically illegal, Vancouver police generally do not arrest people for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Police have, however, been involved in raids on cafes that openly sold marijuana (such as the Da Kine Cafe) and have aggressive programs to shut
down hydroponic marijuana growing operations (nicknamed "grow-ops") in residential areas.
While not completely free of racial tension, Vancouver is known for having more harmonious race relations than most large multiethnic cities. One result is a relatively high rate of intermarriage; mixed ethnicity couples are unremarkable in any neighbourhood. Sushi is one of the most popular foods in the city, with more than 300 sushi restaurants in the metropolitan area. Both the annual Dragon Boat Festival and Lunar New Year's Day Parade are well attended by residents of all ethnic backgrounds. Vancouver has a relatively large music and arts scene and one of the largest gay communities in North America. The area of downtown along Davie Street is home
to most of the city's gay clubs and bars and is known as Davie Village. Every year Vancouver holds one of the country's largest Gay Pride Parades, which attracts as many as hundreds of thousands of spectators.
The influx of Hong Kong immigrants in the 1980s led to the popularization of a brag invented by new-immigrant Chinese youths from Hong Kong, who dubbed the city "Hongcouver". It was largely a media phenomenon and was never in wide usage among Vancouverites (who preferred their own name for their city), although it may have become current in other cities and areas of BC for a short time because of the media coverage.