West Vancouver started out as a settlement for European immigrants back in the 1870s and has slowly but surely transformed itself into one of Canada’s wealthiest municipalities. A new legislation called the Town Planning Act was passed which prohibited new industry consequently turning the municipal into a purely residential one.
West Vancouver‘s reputation as a ‘residential haven from the city grew’ with the setting up of the ferry system and with the growth of the village- style neighborhoods of Dundarave and Ambleside. The major turning point in the fortunes of West Vancouver was during the Great Depression when A.J.T Taylor, a real estate developer and former engineer from Victoria, persuaded the Guinness family of London to buy 4700 acres in the Upper Lands in exchange for one million dollars in improvements over the course of the next five years. As a bonus, the Guinness family also agreed to finance the construction of the Lions Gate Bridge. The bridge would make connect West Vancouver to the city center for the first time ever, making vehicular transport to and fro possible.
In 1933, the Guinness family then enlisted the services of the Olmstead Brothers, a respected landscaping firm based in Boston, whose resume boasted several world-famous landmarks including New York’s Central Park. Their task this time was to design the British Pacific Properties as an exclusive recluse from the pressures and hassles of city living. This project would feature serene recreational parks, malls, bridges, roads and magnificent homes. Nothing like this had been seen before and this project was definitely the first of its kind. In retrospect, this innovative and trailblazing project set the tone for future real estate endeavors, further cementing West Vancouver’s reputation as an emerging, unique and affluent community.
The Lions Gate Bridge was finally completed in 1938 at a staggering cost of almost six million dollars, a hefty amount during this period. Other than providing much needed job opportunities for the locals in the midst of the Great Depression, the bridge made the Capilano Estates (present day British Pacific Properties) more accessible. Increased accessibility made the estates more attractive to potential home buyers.
The completion of the bridge also started a chain reaction of other real estate projects, for instance along Hollyburn Ridge. The net effect was a 180 degree transformation of the entire area as more schools, recreational parks, roads, bridges and other social amenities to be used by the new residents were built. Upon its completion in 1950, the British Properties boasted Canada’s first ever covered shopping mall, the Park Royal Mall.
The company has not looked back since and has been involved in the building of thousands of homes in emerging neighborhoods west of the British Properties. Westhill, Chartwell, Whitby’s Estates, Taylor’s Lookout and Highgrove Place are examples of such neighborhoods.