West Vancouver is known for its affluent neighbourhoods and lovely seaside features, such as Ambleside Park. It is a member municipality of Metro Vancouver, located northwest of the city of Vancouver and adjoined by the District of North Vancouver to its east. Along with the District of North Vancouver and City of North Vancouver, the District of West Vancouver is part of a local regional grouping referred to as the North Shore municipalities, or simply “The North Shore.”
In 1792, Captain George Vancouver named Point Atkinson, which is located in Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. In 1872, James Blake preempted the first 65 hectares (160 acres) of land. West Vancouver was incorporated in 1912, after separating from the District of North Vancouver. In 1938, the Lions Gate Bridge opened, granting greater access to and from the area.
Cypress Provincial Park, mostly located within the municipal boundaries, was one of the venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics. West Vancouver is also home of Canada's first shopping mall, Park Royal Shopping Centre, and also of the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal. The terminal is one of the main connecting points between the British Columbia mainland and Vancouver Island.
All of West Vancouver is situated on the side of the Coast Mountains. Because of this, many homes in West Vancouver have views of Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, and/or Howe Sound. West Vancouver is on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam nations.
The District is home to musical celebrities including Elvis Costello and Sarah McLachlan.
Some West Vancouver homes date back to the 1920s and 30s, although most of the current dwellings were built in the 1970s and 80s. West Vancouver is mostly a residential community. Residents are retired, work at home, or commute to downtown Vancouver. West Vancouver’s average housing price of $2.8 million marks the highest in the country. Fifty-eight percent of housing is single detached homes
According to the 2016 census, 42,473 people made their home in West Vancouver. Median age: 50. In 2019, Macleans reported that West Vancouver was the most affluent place in Canada, with an average household net worth of $4.5m. The median household income is $107,000.
There are 17 public schools and four private schools in West Vancouver. Of these, six are high schools. Over 80 per cent of graduates go to post-secondary schools. Residents from the Sunshine Coast, Squamish, and North Vancouver also attend West Vancouver schools.
Ambleside Park and the 15-block-long seawall are popular among families, tourists, and outdoor enthusiasts. Whytecliff Park is highly regarded in scuba-diving circles. Smaller parks include Lighthouse Park, which contains some old-growth forest and has views of Vancouver from downtown to Point Grey. Lighthouse Park is at the boundary-point between English Bay and the Strait of Georgia. A trail in the park leads to Point Atkinson, where the lighthouse and light station grounds are a national historic site and one of the most photographed landmarks in the entire Lower Mainland.
Other parks include John Lawson Park, which features a playground for children, an open grass field for families to picnic, and a view of Lions Gate Bridge and the downtown skyline. West Vancouver is also home to Cypress Provincial Park with mountain biking trails and a large ski and snowboard resort. The park, which offers scenic views of Howe Sound and the Metro Vancouver area, was one of the venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Other public recreation facilities include an 18-hole par three golf course, a pool, an ice rink, basketball and tennis courts, and skate parks.
Located in one of West Vancouver’s oldest buildings, the Ferry Building Gallery (in Ambleside) presents up to 18 exhibitions annually. The gallery’s mandate is to support the development of emerging and established artists from the North Shore, the Sea-to-Sky Corridor and the Sunshine Coast. Each year, the Harmony Arts Festival brings thousands of people to West Vancouver for pier-side concerts, food events, and art shows. Public art installations include Eye of the Mountain Bear, a sculpture carved from a 12-tonne jade boulder from the Cry Lake Jade Mine, near Kutch Creek in northern B.C., and Beach Tangle. The latter is a 12- by 20-foot sculpture of driftwood pieces and objects combed from West Vancouver’s beaches and shores and located in the atrium of the West Vancouver Community Centre. The West Vancouver Art Museum features art, architecture and design through its exhibitions, publications, collections and educational programs.
West Vancouver has a lively dining scene. You can find just about any type of food, but seafood is especially popular. Restaurants to try, according to TripAdvisor.com readers, include Carmelo’s Ristorante Italiano, The Truffle House & Café, Trattoria Park Royal, and Olive & Anchor.
A 25-block strip of Marine Drive serves as a thriving commercial district, with shops, small offices, garages and gas stations, restaurants, banks, and urban staples. This area is commonly known as Ambleside.
West Vancouver is also home to Park Royal Shopping Centre, Canada’s first mall. Opened in the 1950s, today it consumes two kilometres (1.2 mi) of both sides of Marine Drive near North Vancouver and is home to mostly higher-end stores. After Metrotown in Burnaby, Park Royal is the second largest mall in the province. Northwest of Park Royal, Caulfield Village is another centre popular among shoppers.
Smaller shops worth a visit include Spirit Gallery for Pacific Coast art and The Oracle Emporium. The Oracle is filled with locally made artisan wares and fair-trade goods from Bali, Indonesia, and Mexico, and features readings from onsite psychics.