Living in Vancouver, North Vancouver, and the Lower Mainland

Vancouver is, quite simply, a great place to be. The city has earned top-3 and even number 1 global livability rankings from the Economist and the Mercer Survey, and it ranks in the top 20 cities of the Monacle livability index. It combines the best of neighbourhood feeling, big-city living, and natural beauty, and it attracts people from all over the world for its mild climate, progressive urban planning, active lifestyle, and creative workforce.

Vancouver is the largest city in British Columbia and in Western Canada, and it is the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada. The entire urban region, which we call the Lower Mainland, is comprised of the core of Vancouver, Seaspan’s home of North Vancouver, and our neighbouring metro-area suburbs and satellite cities.

North Vancouver and the North Shore: Seaspan Headquarters

The home of our Vancouver Shipyards and Drydock, North Vancouver has its own unique culture of shops, cafes, markets, and seaside walkways, and it’s just minutes away by bridge or seabus from the downtown core of Vancouver. This, along with a fantastic harbour view from virtually every neighbourhood and the great outdoor adventure of the North Shore mountains lying literally in our backyards, gives North Vancouver all the best elements of West Coast living—with the added benefit of a very short commute to the Seaspan worksite.

The district of North Vancouver itself, and neighbouring North Shore communities like Deep Cove, Horseshoe Bay and, further up the Sea-to-Sky highway, Squamish, are popular with families and have plenty of amenities like daycares, playgrounds, and family-friendly restaurants and services, as well as a strong school and library system.

Seaspan Shipyard’s location on the North Shore of Vancouver  View larger map

At the top of the city, accessible by public transit, is the recreation area of Grouse Mountain, with its skiing, zip lines, scenic gondola lift, and the famous Grouse Grind, a challenging trail that takes you up more than 850 metres in just three kilometres and which has become a weekend must-do for active Vancouverites. A short drive to the east and west of Grouse Mountain are the ski hills of Cypress Bowl and Mount Seymour, which offer more hiking, tobogganing, mountain biking, or just a pleasant scenic walk. A couple of hours north is the village of Whistler, a world-class skiing hotspot and Vancouver’s partner in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Metro Vancouver and the Lower Mainland

The City of Vancouver

Vancouver Climate

  • Average January temperature: 3° C
  • Average July temperature: 18° C
  • Average annual rain and snowfall: 1,219 mm

The urban centre of the Lower Mainland is the unique and spectacular city of Vancouver. This urban peninsula—bordered by the Burrard Inlet, the Strait of Georgia, and the Fraser River—offers rich city life on the very doorstep of ocean and forest.

The city was founded in 1886 and immediately began to boom because of its safe, deep-water port and the area’s wealth of natural resources. Today, the city still grows—almost half of its residents are immigrants, and thousands more arrive every year. The result is a mosaic of vibrant neighbourhoods: like historic Chinatown, the Italian community of Commercial Drive, the Punjabi Market on south Main, and the lasting Greek flavour of Kitsilano. And, on every street, you’ll find a mix of all cultures, and the friendly fusion that comes from being a vital part of the Pacific Rim.

Vancouverites are progressive, and much of the city’s development is driven by ideals of sustainability and inclusivity. New bike paths criss-cross downtown and the residential areas, and Vancouver has been ranked as a “Most Walkable City” and a “Top Ten Sports City.” The preparations for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games left a lasting legacy in rapid transit, public squares, and recreational facilities.

In the summer, farmers’ markets crop up across the city and year-round fresh and local produce is available in the Granville Island Public Market—along with artisan shops and the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. The city has a thriving creative class; the technology, film, animation, and digital media industries are thriving and the city ranks highly in terms of the education of its population.

Metro Vancouver

Quick Facts about Metro Vancouver

  • Total population: 2.1 million
  • Total area: 2,877 square kilometres
  • Number of municipalities: 22
  • Average rent, 1 bedroom: $940/month
  • Time zone: Pacific

Living in Vancouver

Surrounding the central city and reaching down the sweeping Fraser River Valley is the Metro Vancouver area, which includes cities such as Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Port Moody, Surrey, Delta, and Maple Ridge.

Each of these suburban areas combine proximity to Vancouver with their individual urban atmospheres and cultural fabrics—and most have the added bonus of more affordable real estate values. These areas are growing fast and most have developed their own central cores, independent from downtown Vancouver. The province is in the process of building additional schools throughout the Metro area, and new fast-bus and rapid transit lines have made travel faster and easier throughout the region.