Vancouver is situated in the province of British Columbia. Known for its amazing scenery, the city is nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountain range. It boasts the largest port in the country and is the major gateway for Pacific Rim trade.

Trade is key to Vancouver’s economy, which was built on supplying natural resources such as gold, forestry products and other minerals to the world. Key drivers of the city’s impressive growth in recent years have been the booming housing market as well as solid activity in construction, finance, insurance, manufacturing, film production, entertainment and the arts as well as tourism.

Vancouver is one of the most densely populated cities in Canada with an urban landscape characterized by high-rise residential and mixed-use developments, as well as a lack of affordable housing. The city’s approach to urban planning originated in the 1950s when the building of towers was encouraged subject to strict guidelines on setbacks and green spaces. The result is a central business district that is highly attractive to both employers and career-makers and takes about 20 minutes to drive around. The success of these dense but livable neighbourhoods has paved the way for the redevelopment of industrial sites around the city.

Sustainability has been high on Vancouver’s agenda for some time. The city’s Greenest City initiative is designed to address its environmental challenges and stay on the leading edge of urban sustainability. The vision is to put Vancouver on the path to becoming the greenest city in the world through a set of strategies that include adapting to the effects of climate change, becoming a zero-waste community by 2040 and obtaining 100 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2050.

Ramping up the supply of affordable housing is another key priority announced in late 2017 to sustain the city’s diversity, community, longevity and livability. This is being addressed through the Housing Vancouver Strategy, a plan aimed at transforming low-density neighbourhoods by increasing rental, social and ground-oriented housing near future transit hubs and arterials, starting with the Broadway Corridor, Nanaimo Station, 29th Station and Olympic Village. In terms of infrastructure spending, there is a commitment to public transit with the Millennium Line’s underground Broadway Extension, the new Surrey light rail transit system and an expanded bus service.

With an aging population, climate change and a geography that constrains this port city, all eyes will be on the outcomes of Vancouver’s plans. As with many growing cities, Vancouver will continue to focus on solutions to address housing affordability.

PLACES

Score: 8.2/10
HOUSING

HOUSING

Score: 7.5/10

The Metro Vancouver Regional District, Metro Vancouver for short, is a political body governing an area that includes 21 municipalities including the City of Vancouver, the most populous city within the regional boundaries.

The high cost of housing has been a major concern. Recognizing an affordable and diverse housing supply is an important foundation for meeting the needs of a growing population, Metro Vancouver developed a Regional Affordable Housing Strategy. It provides recommended actions for municipal members and other key stakeholders such as the provincial and federal governments, as improving regional housing affordability requires actions from many different actors.

Metro 2040 provides the overall growth management framework for the region and for the Regional Affordable Housing Strategy. It coordinates and aligns regional land use and transportation planning, and directs growth to urban centers and Frequent Transit Development Areas (FTDAs). Other programs are also in place, such as the Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation, a nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing for low and middle income households.

According to the Greenest City target set by the City of Vancouver, the average distance driven per resident will be reduced by 20 per cent from 2007 levels by 2020. The city has also been encouraging compact development in housing. Vancouver’s housing target is to build 72,000 units between now and 2027.

PUBLIC REALM

PUBLIC REALM

Score: 9.0/10

A well-designed and well-planned public realm plays an important role in facilitating public life and shaping a community. Plazas, publicly accessible urban waterfronts and walkable streetscapes enhance livability and neighbourhood character and, in turn, foster economic growth.

Within the Vancouver metropolitan area, there are several challenges to creating such spaces in the future. The high rate of growth in population density and changing demographics in the region, specifically in urban centers such as the City of Vancouver, create higher demand for open public spaces. At the same time, the pace and volume of densification and the limited supply of viable urban land pose a real threat to the maintenance and expansion of the public realm. In recent years, several public plazas fell foul of development. In response, the regional and local governing bodies have developed strategies and plans to guide the creation of a vibrant public realm.

The Transit-Oriented Communities Design Guidelines were developed by Translink to create more livable places around transit in the Metro Vancouver area. The guidelines address streetscape design by outlining design strategies for multimodal streets and open public spaces such as plazas. With higher building density, the need for active and soft urban edges increases. The City of Vancouver has produced several plans and policies that address planning controls for streetscape design such as the Streetscape Design Guidelines, Street Restoration Manual and the Complete Streets Policy Framework and Related By-Law Changes.

The Places for People Downtown Program was launched to find a long-term strategy for creating vibrant public spaces, including plazas. The city is also working on producing a broad Plaza Stewardship Strategy that would delineate a process for creating, funding and maintaining plazas around the city. Transport 2040 is designed to guide transportation and land-use decisions and public investment for the years ahead. It emphasizes the importance of creating well-designed public spaces.

Vancouver’s bustling waterfront is one of the region’s greatest assets. In recent years, regional and local municipalities have sought to consolidate economic goals with those of sustainability, resilience and resident wellbeing. The Port Metro Vancouver Land Use Plan outlines a 20-year framework for the development of port lands that is designed to be responsive to business and market needs, while balancing those interests with the protection of the natural and physical environments.

The City of Vancouver released the State of the Waterfront Report in March this year. It sets targets and includes performance indicators for different areas of focus in waterfront development: working, living and access to nature, ecosystems and transportation. The report seeks to identify risks to sustainable waterfront development such as loss of industrial lands through rezoning, increased containership traffic and an increase in population at risk of flooding.

URBAN GREEN SPACE

URBAN GREEN SPACE

Score: 8.5/10

Urban green spaces such as parks, gardens and other ecosystems are a fundamental component of any urban ecosystem and play a critical role in promoting active transportation, recreation and social interaction. The Metro Vancouver 2040: Shaping Our Future is a regional growth strategy that calls for the protection of the environment to respond to climate change impacts, including collaborating across levels of government to protect endangered species and restoring habitats.

The Metro Vancouver Regional Parks Plan outlines goals and strategies for the protection of natural areas and regional parks and encourages engagement with municipality members and First Nations for developing and upholding natural heritage protection plans and policies. The Transit-Oriented Communities Guidelines also stresses the importance of streets, trees and landscaping.

The City of Vancouver’s The Greenest City Action Plan is an ambitious document that emphasizes the protection of green spaces and access to urban forests. A Street Tree Guidelines for the Public Realm was also developed to help with preserving and integrating trees into street design with other urban design elements. Plans for protecting conservation areas and enhancing biodiversity within the city are outlined in the Strategic Directions for Biodiversity Conservation and the Urban Forest Strategy.

SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE

SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE

Score: 7.5/10

Social infrastructure has a key role in creating a sustainable community that maintains and improves the standard of living and quality of life. Many policies and plans are in place to invest in the assets for education, healthcare, childcare systems and public institutions within Metro Vancouver.

The Government of British Columbia (BC) has addressed the increasing enrollment in primary and secondary schools in growth districts in its 2018 budget. The Ministry of Education has been allocated CAD400 million to reduce class sizes and hire 3,700 more teachers to accommodate the growing enrollment. Overall, CAD2 billion is being allocated in capital investments to maintain, replace, renovate, and expand primary and secondary facilities. In Vancouver alone, more than 2,300 student spaces will be added because of capital investments such as the replacement of Bayview Elementary and an additional 200,655 and 1,500 student spaces at Handsworth Secondary School (200), Edgewood Drive Elementary (655) and Salish Secondary School (1500).

While these investments are helping to move the city of Vancouver forward in the primary and secondary education space, enrollment growth projections suggest that more funding will be required to keep up with the increasing trend. The government has also committed CAD2.6 billion in post-secondary capital investments across the province; a large slice is going towards renovations, extensions and the construction of new buildings in many of Vancouver’s universities and colleges to accommodate increasing enrollment rates, for example:

  • CAD56 million is going to redevelopment, renovation and refurbishment of undergraduate life sciences laboratories at the University of British Columbia
  • CAD95 million to building Simon Fraser University’s sustainable energy and environmental engineering building
  • CAD78 million to the British Columbia Institute of Technology Health Sciences Centre for an advanced simulation building
  • 5,000 beds are being added to the student housing program.

To improve its healthcare system, the BC Government has committed CAD3 billion in capital investments across the province in the next few years. The Vancouver region is receiving funding to renew and redevelop some major hospitals to increase access to acute health care. More than CAD1.5 billion has been allocated for big redevelopment projects, including:

  • CAD1.3 billion for the three-phase Royal Columbian Hospital redevelopment
  • CAD154 million for the redevelopment of the Vancouver Children’s and Women’s Hospital
  • CAD100 million for the Vancouver General Hospital operating room renewal.

As a metropolitan area with a growing population, Vancouver needs more primary care providers and family care centers. The provincial government has allocated CAD150 million over three years to expand coverage. Almost CAD300 million has been granted across the province to fund IT projects that aim to support quality patient care, increase consistency across systems, and establish standardized clinic information systems.

In Vancouver, CAD11 million has been granted to the Vancouver General Hospital Family Health Center to support psychiatric services and community-based health programs. The Burnaby Center for Mental Health and Addictions is being replaced with a new center that will have an additional 105 beds.

Vancouver has some of the highest childcare costs in the province and the country, making childcare inaccessible to many low income families. The BC Government has allocated CAD1 billion in childcare and early learning investments during the next three years to increase accessibility and reduce costs for lower income families. Fee reductions for infant, toddler, and three-to-five-year-old care will help 50,000 families and child care benefits to low and median income families will help 86,000 families.

Increasing the number of spaces is also a priority for the province. There is CAD237 million allocated to increase the number of childcare spots by 22,000. Another focus has been increasing access to specialized care for children with diverse needs and vulnerable children, and providing culturally-centered child are to Indigenous communities.

In the cultural field, the city offers support such as the City of Vancouver Cultural Infrastructure Grants to support cultural space planning, acquisition and development. Examples of new or expanded cultural assets include:

  • CAD16 million expansion of the Museum of Surry
  • CAD15 million Vancouver Public library expansion.

While there is an Inspiring Libraries, Connecting Communities 2016 Plan, it doesn’t mention specific funding or expansion efforts.

CLIMATE CHANGE

CLIMATE CHANGE

Score: 9.0/10

The City of Vancouver’s The Greenest City Action Plan is an ambitious strategy for staying on the leading edge of urban sustainability. Through a set of measurable and attainable targets, the city is planning on building a strong local economy with vibrant and inclusive neighbourhoods, and becoming an internationally-recognized city that meets the needs of future generations.

The action plan outlines 10 goals and has three areas of focus: Zero Carbon, Zero Waste and Healthy Ecosystems. Some of the targets are to:

  • Reduce community-based greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 33 per cent from 2007 levels by 2020
  • Require all buildings constructed from 2020 onward to be carbon neutral in operations
  • Increase sustainable modes’ share of transportation to more than 50 per cent
  • Reduce energy use and GHG emissions in existing buildings by 20 per cent over 2007 levels

The City’s Renewable City Strategy sets a goal of obtaining 100 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2050. The Zero Emissions Building Plan is the next step to advancing the Renewable City Strategy, by eliminating emissions from new buildings by 2030 through energy efficiency and renewable energy. The City of Vancouver is the first big city in North America to establish specific targets and actions to achieve zero emissions in all new buildings by 2030.

In 2012, the city council adopted the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy to ensure a vibrant, livable, and resilient city prevailed. The strategy includes primary and supporting actions, including accountability and priority. Proposed actions were evaluated based on their:

  • Effectiveness
  • Overlap with sustainability and mitigation goals
  • Cost-benefit ratio
  • Time horizon for anticipated impacts

A Neighbourhood Energy Strategy was also developed to build neighbourhood renewable energy systems throughout Vancouver to meet the city’s targets in reducing carbon emissions and increasing renewable energy sources to 100 per cent by 2050.

Mobility

MOBILITY

Score: 5.9/10
INFRASTRUCTURE: PUBLIC TRANSIT

INFRASTRUCTURE: PUBLIC TRANSIT

Score: 6.5/10

TransLink’s Regional Transportation Strategy extending to 2040 is being updated this year. Transportation investments have been established under the 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transportation. One of the goals of the Regional Growth Strategy: Metro Vancouver 2040 is to directly connect land-use and transportation infrastructure, focusing on creating a compact urban area and supporting sustainable transportation choice. Vancouver has also established a mobility group to explore future transport options and update regional transport strategies.

In March 2018, the government contributed towards a business case study for a high-speed rail line connecting Vancouver, Seattle and Portland. The Compass card was deployed in 2015 as a contactless smart card payment system for public transit in Vancouver. It works for bus, sky train, sea bus, and West Coast Express (a regional commuter train between Mission and Downtown Vancouver). From May 2018, the card readers also accept contactless Visa and MasterCard credit cards, as well as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

LOGISTICS & FREIGHT PRODUCTIVITY

LOGISTICS & FREIGHT PRODUCTIVITY

Score: 6.3/10

The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest, and the third largest in North America by tonnage. It has 27 main terminals with multimodal connectivity for much of the province and Canada. Big infrastructure projects are under way to handle capacity for growth. The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is a new three-berth container terminal that will meet forecast demand to 2030 and beyond. Several studies have revealed that the regional supply of vacant industrial land is declining rapidly, which is expected to have a negative effect on the economy as early as 2020.

The Port of Vancouver mandated GPS units for trucks and has an online GPS dashboard to communicate to traffic terminal condition information. There have also been studies of off-peak goods movement to ease congestion. Last year, a Regional Goods Movement Strategy released by TransLink identified network efficiency as an action to be focused upon. Route separation exists for much of the rail network, and further grade separation is being investigated as part of this strategy.

GLOBAL CONNECTIVITY

GLOBAL CONNECTIVITY

Score: 8.0/10

Vancouver International Airport’s master plan is updated every 10 years and outlines opportunities for increased global travel and freight by air. Already it handles 24 million passengers annually and in 2012, 2013 and 2014 it was voted in the world’s top 10. The master plan recently received CAD9.1 billion in funding for airport expansion and improvements during the next 20 years that will increase its capacity and number of flight connections, particularly to Asia.

The Port of Vancouver has a Land Use Plan for freight that outlines and guides expansion plans for the next 20 years. It also includes opportunities for global travel as the port oversees cruise operations in and out of Vancouver. Funding for the Port of Vancouver largely comes from private investors and there is substantial interest and revenue being allocated towards expanding port infrastructure for people and goods.

INFRASTRUCTURE: PEDESTRIANS & CYCLING

INFRASTRUCTURE: PEDESTRIANS & CYCLING

Score: 6.0/10

The Regional Cycling Strategy for Metro Vancouver provides guidance on how cycling can contribute to realizing the goals of Transport 2040. Improving pedestrian facilities is also acknowledged in Transport 2040 at a regional level. Many municipalities have plans that address the implementation of shared zones. End-of-trip facilities are addressed by some municipalities and non-governmental organizations, but not by a regional authority.

The City of Vancouver’s Transportation 2040 Plan addresses opportunities for lower vehicle speed limits but not specific interventions across municipalities. Some municipal transportation plans provide supporting data for transition to lower speed zones.

BUILT FORM: PARKING PROVISIONS

BUILT FORM: PARKING PROVISIONS

Score: 4.0/10
Although Metro Vancouver does not have a parking policy for the region, it has released a study about regional parking availability for apartments and opportunities for review. As part of VIVA Vancouver, the city is converting parking spots to parklets for the public to use. Parklets provide places for people to sit, relax and enjoy the city, and contribute to reclaiming public space from traditionally more car-oriented environments such as roads and curbside parking facilities. FUTURE MOBILITY: SERVICES

FUTURE MOBILITY: SERVICES

Score: 5.5/10

Limited point-to-point services are being supported within Metro Vancouver, including a few regional express transit services that operate to and from ferry terminals in West Vancouver and Delta. The BC Government issued recommendations for ride-hailing for which Uber has provided feedback on. The Transportation Minister is planning on introducing legislation for ride-hailing this northern autumn.

Metro Vancouver provides priority parking spaces at several park-and-ride facilities around the region to support carpooling and ride-sharing. Four car-sharing companies are operating in Vancouver and neighbouring municipalities: Car2go, Evo, Modo, and Zipcar. Car2go and Evo operate a dispersed system in which you can pick up and drop off the car anywhere in the services area, while Modo and Zipcar require you to pick up and drop off the car at the same location.

FUTURE MOBILITY: TECHNOLOGY

FUTURE MOBILITY: TECHNOLOGY

Score: 5.3/10

New mobility policy directions have been crafted for Metro Vancouver by TransLink. The City of Vancouver has acknowledged that this area of study was not well covered in its long-range transportation plan, in part because it was only in early development. Vancouver requires all new houses and developments to provide charging outlets for electric vehicles. As part of Transportation 2040, there is also an action to partner with private industry to provide electric charging infrastructure throughout the city.

At present Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are regulated at a federal level by Transport Canada with limited influence by local municipalities. Companies are in the process of test flights using UAVs for logistics and delivery across the country.

Technology

TECHNOLOGY

Score: 7.8/10
CONNECTIVITY & INFRASTRUCTURE

CONNECTIVITY & INFRASTRUCTURE

Score: 9.0/10
Because of the exclusive federal jurisdiction over wired and wireless telecommunications in Canada, Metro Vancouver has a limited role in influencing outcomes. However, the City of Surrey has already been laying the groundwork to thrive in the new age of digital connectivity. By the end of this year, fiber infrastructure will bring broadband speeds to 90 per cent of businesses and homes in Surrey and connect the city to broadband networks eastward across Canada and southwards down the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, all the way to California. The City of Surrey is aiming to become a Metro Vancouver digital service hub. FIXED INTERNET: SPEEDS & FEEDS

FIXED INTERNET: SPEEDS & FEEDS

Score: 9.0/10
Modern telecommunications services are fundamental to Canada’s future economic prosperity, global competitiveness, social development and democratic discourse. Fixed and mobile wireless broadband internet access services are catalysts for innovation and underpin a vibrant, creative, interactive world that connects Canadians across vast distances and with the rest of the world. MOBILE INTERNET: WI-FI, 5G, NARROWBAND IOT

MOBILE INTERNET: WI-FI, 5G, NARROWBAND IOT

Score: 9.0/10
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulates the fiber and wireless companies to ensure Canadians have access to these services. The big three, Rogers, Bell and TELUS, as well as Shaw, Videotron, SaskTel, Freedom Mobile, and Cogeco, have mature networks on fiber and/or mobile, and are continuing to invest heavily in infrastructure developments. OPEN DATA

OPEN DATA

Score: 8.0/10
The City of Vancouver has an open data catalog with free and open access to more than 155 datasets. As a component of its Digital Strategy, one of the digital initiatives proposed was to further expand the city’s open data platform. However, the strategy would need more funding than presently available. INFORMATION & DATA SECURITY

INFORMATION & DATA SECURITY

Score: 4.0/10

One of the City of Vancouver’s objectives is to, “Advance the technology security and resilience, with a current year focus on enhancing the city’s data center redundancy, improving cyber security and assessing mission-critical operational technologies”. The Province of BC sees digital security as a shared responsibility and is working to protect and maintain its modernized infrastructure. In 2016, the Office of the Chief Information Officer for the province released an Information Security Policy to outline how it would provide reliable and secure IT services. This policy acts as guidance in the design and operation of safe IT. The Province of BC also has a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that the City of Vancouver refers to as a guide to protecting the data and personal information of visitors to its website.

Canada has enacted a Privacy Act to govern the use of all personal information collected by the federal government and the rights Canadian citizens have to access information that has been collected. The federal government also has enacted the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act to, “Govern the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in a manner that recognizes the right of privacy of individuals with respect to their personal information and the need of organizations to collect, use or disclose personal information for purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate in the circumstances.”

PLANNING & POLICY

PLANNING & POLICY

Score: 8.0/10
The planning and policies for facilitating or commissioning communications infrastructure are regulated on a federal level by the CRTC. The CRTC has a three-year plan that outlines the key activities between 2017 and 2020. Due to the exclusive federal jurisdiction in Canada, Metro Vancouver has a limited role in influencing planning and policies. Urban Systems

URBAN SYSTEMS

Score: 6.6/10
POWER GENERATION & DISTRIBUTION

POWER GENERATION & DISTRIBUTION

Score: 7.0/10

With a 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050 target in mind, the city has continued its efforts in expanding district energy networks, intervening on Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project and improving landfill gas capture. One of the priorities until 2020 is to develop four new neighbourhood energy systems, convert two existing steam heat networks to renewable energy and to develop and implement a renewable energy strategy.

The city’s Neighbourhood Energy Strategy is another key way to meet the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan and Renewable City Strategy by developing renewable energy systems throughout Metro Vancouver. These systems use low-carbon renewable energy sources, such as sewage waste heat, to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Vancouver has been focusing on fossil fuel divestment and renewable energy investment for the past five years. The city, as well as the province of BC, has created multiple funding and support opportunities for the generation of clean energy, residential and commercial use of clean energy and the innovation of clean-energy technologies. Programs include Vancouver’s Innovative Clean Energy Fund and BC Bioenergy Network funding program. Existing regulatory frameworks are also in place to support such innovation and the Renewable City Strategy, along with other plans and frameworks, aim to support this growth further.

The adoption of smart grid infrastructure is addressed briefly in the Renewable City Strategy. However, set plans and funding for this have not yet been outlined.

WATER TREATMENT & DISTRIBUTION

WATER TREATMENT & DISTRIBUTION

Score: 4.8/10

Metro Vancouver is responsible for developing long-range plans for managing the region’s drinking water and it regularly reports on statistics and monitoring programs and the progress of implementing these plans. The Drinking Water Management Plan is the overarching plan for Metro Vancouver and its member municipalities that set the direction and priority for drinking water initiatives for the region. It lays out the priority for drinking water initiatives such as: new infrastructure, identifying additional water supplies and managing watersheds as natural assets. The Drinking Water Conservation Plan is also in place to manage demand for the region’s drinking water during the summer months, and if required, during an emergency.

Metro Vancouver has continued to invest in water treatment innovation and upgrading, such as a biofuel facility to be built in the City of Surrey to investigate biogas from wastewater. Regulations and policies are also in place to improve receiving water quality by requiring all municipalities to remove one per cent discharge per year.

WASTE MANAGEMENT

WASTE MANAGEMENT

Score: 8.0/10

Zero Waste Vancouver is a long-term strategic vision for Vancouver to achieve the goal of zero waste by 2040. This vision helps guide future decisions and investments relating to solid waste and provides a framework to continue the work and success of present waste policies and programs. The Greenest City Action Plan sees a path towards zero waste in reducing solid waste going to landfill and incinerator by 50 per cent from 2008 levels.

The city is exploring short to long-term actions that will help reduce and ultimately eliminate waste sent to landfill or incinerator, including the Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy to reduce waste from disposable cups, plastic and paper shopping bags, foam food packaging, and take-out containers. Vancouver has already instigated a ban on single use straws to work towards the 2040 zero-waste goal.

Vancouver has extensive short and long-term plans for minimizing waste (controlling waste generation), separating waste, reusing materials and targeting zero waste. The City of Vancouver produces two annual reports about landfill and overall waste management efforts. Although there is no specific mention of remediation in the annual landfill reports, they do provide an overview of landfill activities.

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