The City’s population is largely made up of immigrants from Asian nations, including China and Iran. It also has sizable communities of Filipinos, Japanese and Koreans.
Population by age
The population of West Vancouver is a mix of people who have been born and raised in the area, and those who have moved to the community from outside. It is also a mix of young and old, with a high proportion of seniors.
The city’s population is growing, which is a positive sign. It is in alignment with City policies that guide growth to urban centres and with Metro Vancouver’s growth management policy that directs development to areas that are more sustainable, livable and provide better services.
According to Statistics Canada, the number of residents in West Vancouver was 42,470 as of 2016. The average age of locals is 47.4. This is higher than the average for the Lower Mainland and is an indication that people are living longer in West Vancouver.
One of the main factors affecting the city’s population is housing. Almost all of the housing stock in the municipality is single-family homes, which account for 58 per cent of the total residential housing inventory. This represents a decrease from 2001, when 62 per cent of the housing inventory was comprised of single-family properties.
This drop in the single-family home inventory has been accompanied by an increase in apartment dwellings, which now make up 30 per cent of the municipal housing supply. In addition, a number of other forms of low-density housing like townhomes are now present in the city’s residential inventory.
Another factor contributing to the increase in the number of residents is the aging population. The average age of West Vancouver residents has increased from 47.6 in 2016 to 50.8 in 2019.
In terms of the population by age, males account for 46.4% and females for 53.6% of the population in West Vancouver. The largest group of individuals in the local population are those who are 65 and older (11,810 individuals).
In terms of employment, most employed residents of West Vancouver spend 15 to 29 minutes commuting to their job. Most of these workers commute by car, truck or van. However, there are a small number of workers who use public transportation as their primary mode of transport to work.
Population by race
Located on the North Shore across Burrard Inlet via the Lions Gate Bridge from Vancouver, West Vancouver is one of Canada’s most wealthy municipalities (followed by its neighbor, North Vancouver). It also features spectacular parks and ski trails, beautiful beaches and miles of natural beauty.
Residents of West Vancouver mainly commute to downtown or work at home. They live in large, expensive houses that have views of Vancouver Island, English Bay and/or Howe Sound.
The population of West Vancouver is comprised of people of various ethnic groups and races. There are some recognizable neighborhoods in West Vancouver with distinct ethnic mixes, such as Chinatown and Little Italy.
In recent years, immigration into Vancouver has been a major factor in its diversity. Many foreigners come to the city to find employment in the growing economy of Western Canada.
Since the 1990s, immigration from Hong Kong has increased greatly in West Vancouver and other parts of the Greater Vancouver area. This has boosted the number of Asians in the region, with the largest group being Chinese. Other major Asian groups in the region include South Asians, Indians and Filipinos.
As a result of the rise in immigration, the population of West Vancouver is highly diverse, with different languages being spoken by the majority of the residents. It is estimated that 12% of the population speaks a language other than English as their first language and more than half of the residents are immigrants from another country.
According to Statistics Canada, the region’s visible minority population has risen significantly over the past decade. As of 2021, 1.42 million residents identified as being part of a visible minority in the Metro Vancouver region. This is an increase of 54% from 48.9% in 2016.
There are several ethnic communities in the Metro Vancouver region, including Chinese, South Asians and Indians. The majority of the Indian community is Punjabi, while the Asian community is largely composed of Vietnamese, Filipino and Cambodians.
The largest ethnic group in West Vancouver is South Asian, with a population of 212,680 people. The region’s second largest ethnic group is Chinese, with a population of 48,350 people. The third-largest ethnic group is Filipino, with a population of 39,285 people.
Population by language
West Vancouver has one of the most linguistically diverse populations in Canada. Over 40 per cent of the population speaks a language other than English or French at home. The city is also a major destination for immigrants, with over 274,000 people from outside the country living in the area.
Aboriginal people occupied the region of present-day Vancouver for thousands of years. Archaeological records indicate that the Coast Salish people had villages in areas of Vancouver, such as Stanley Park, False Creek, Kitsilano, and Point Grey. They referred to the area as Lhq’a:lets, meaning “wide at the bottom/end”.
The first Europeans came to the area in the 1790s, when Spanish explorer Jose Maria Narvaez explored the coast of present-day Point Grey and parts of Burrard Inlet. He named the town of Vancouver and gave various places British names.
Today, West Vancouver is home to people from all over the world. Most are of European descent, but there are also a number of Chinese and Japanese immigrants. Several Indian communities are also present, including the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh (Burrard) peoples.
About 15,000 aboriginal people live in the city and are largely concentrated on the west side of the city. They occupy traditional and presently unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.
According to Statistics Canada, about four in 10 Canadians can speak more than one language and more than 1 million Canadians are bilingual. The majority of these bilinguals are from the province of Quebec, but many others are from across the country.
In the 2021 census, 4.6 million Canadians predominantly spoke a language other than English or French at the home. These languages include German, Hindi, Italian and Spanish.
Despite the growth in language use, English remains the primary language of communication in West Vancouver. In addition to English, about 77,435 residents know Cantonese, Mandarin, Tagalog, Punjabi, Vietnamese and Farsi.
There are more than 110,000 students enrolled in the Vancouver school district, with 76 elementary schools and 17 elementary annexes. The district also operates 18 French immersion schools and a Mandarin bilingual school. It also runs a number of Franco-Columbian and multilingual schools, as well as a few English language learning (ELL) programs.
Population by income
The population of West Vancouver is affluent, with a median income of $107,000 and an average household net worth of $4.5 million. This makes it the richest community in Canada, a distinction that reflects its high real estate prices and affluent lifestyle.
Residents of West Vancouver are primarily employed in management, business, finance and administration, and sales and service. Most local jobs are full time.
Despite its affluence, West Vancouver also has a significant number of people living in poverty. Approximately 7.5% of its working age population is living in families that earn less than the Low Income Measure (LIM), a federal government indicator of financial stress.
This is a higher rate than the 6.5% recorded in 2006. In addition, there are many West Vancouver residents who are struggling with addictions, mental health issues, homelessness, or other problems.
Although the majority of West Vancouver’s residents are able to provide for themselves and their family, there is a growing need to find affordable housing in the community. Younger people moving into the city are finding it increasingly difficult to afford their first homes, while older residents looking to downsize face a lack of options.
West Vancouver is also a major tourist destination, with a plethora of public parks and recreational facilities. Some of these include Cypress Provincial Park, Whytecliff Park and Lighthouse Park. It is also home to a large ski and snowboard resort that was one of the venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
According to Statistics Canada, the largest share of West Vancouver’s immigrant population selected Asian countries. More than half chose China (26.7 per cent) and Iran (22 per cent). About a quarter choose European countries, with smaller numbers from the Americas and Africa.
These findings are consistent with previous census data that shows the community’s aging demographics and concentration of high income and inequality. A complex mix of factors – including global migration and wealth – is making life more challenging for residents of this community.
As with most cities in Canada, the majority of homeowners in West Vancouver are mortgage holders. However, the community is unique amongst all of the municipalities on the North Shore in having the highest percentage of mortgage-free owners. This could be a reflection of West Vancouver’s older population, who purchased property decades ago before real estate prices increased significantly, said Yan.
Among many other things, David A. Grantham is a contributing author to UmassExtension West Vancouver Blo. He is a renowned expert on real estate in BC.
Born in North Vancouver, Louisiana, Dr. Grantham grew up in Lower Lonsdale. He then went on to complete his business degree at the University British Columbia. As of this writing, Grantham has completed over 100 projects, including the development of a high rise building in Vancouver.
He is a husband, father, son, brother, and friend. He was a dedicated outdoorsman and enjoyed sports such as hunting, fishing, scuba diving, and snow skiing. His wife, Alison Grantham, and their two daughters survived him. He is survived by his wife Alison Martin Grantham and two daughters.