North Vancouver is divided into two separate municipalities - the City of North Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver - known collectively to most people as North Vancouver, but each unique in its own way. The City is the "downtown" area, urban and dense, with most of the high rise buildings, rental operations and commercial operations, whereas the District is the surrounding, mainly residential area with a series of commercial areas.
Attractions include the Lonsdale Quay, Shipyards, 16000 sq. ft. skate park, spray park, Trans Canada Trail Pavilion, Community Garden, Capilano Mall with 90 shops and services, and beautiful museums, art galleries and gardens ... not to mention signature destinations like the world-renowned Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park, Grouse Mountain, and Seymour Mountain recreation areas.
With a population of upwards of 135,000 residents, North Vancouver’s ‘aging’ demographic is on a lower end of the curve in comparison to West Van. Young and family-oriented with a majority of the population in prime earning years, the North Vancouver area has an exciting buzz of activity unique in the Lower Mainland.
Access to downtown Vancouver is via the Lions Gate Bridge and regular transit services, or via the ‘Seabus’ running between the Lonsdale Quay and the Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver, an approximate 12 minute crossing - making North Van the perfect residential home for commuters. Approximately 30 communities make up the North Shore. Many are small sub-communities, like Edgemont Village, Deep Cove, Blueridge, Maplewood ... and many others are more regional in scope like Seymour Valley, Lynn Valley, Lower Capilano, Lions Gate, and Grousewoods/Capilano. Each has their unique charms and draws. (For a full list of North Van Community Associations, visit the District of North Vancouver web site.)
Grouse and Seymour mountains have been the go-to downhill ski destinations for the Lower Mainland. Grouse has matured into a sophisticated mountain experience offering everything from traditional downhill skiing and snowboarding to sleigh rides, ice skating, ‘snow limo’, terrain parks, ziplines, wind turbine science, theatre in the sky, the Skyride ... right up to a beautiful wildlife refuge with interpretive programs showcasing ‘Grinder’ and ‘Coola’ the resident grizzlies, owls, wolves and even a hummingbird monitoring station. Grouse is also where crazy folk pit themselves against the mountain in a painful ritual referred to as ‘the Grouse Grind’, a 2.9 km trial straight up the face - not for your average armchair hiker! With an elevation gain of 853 metres, and the popular ‘Grind Timer’ card for clocking your times, the original branded experience begun in 1981 by a group of mountaineers looking for serious off-season training lives on today, with over 100,000 climbers a year making the trek. Other summer activities include the Lumberjack Show, alpine meadow hikes, dining atop the city, heli tours and paragliding.
Mount Seymour is considered ‘the family mountain’ and is family-owned since 1984. Known for its ski and snowboard school and the #2 Terrain Park in Western Canada, Mount Seymour has recently added Vancouver’s newest high speed quad chair and is home to Vancouver’s only covered magic carpet people mover. Mount Seymour is also a favorite for tobogganing and tubing close to downtown, and is excellently lit for the majority of activities at night.
North Van Recreation offers an impressive list of additional activities, providing ample evidence of the draw it has for its younger demographic: aquatics, arts, curling, dance, day camps, preschool activities, fitness, hockey, indoor cycling, martial arts, pilates, racquet sports, skating, swimming, tennis, yoga and youth & seniors activities. Facilities range from skating arenas to courts and fields, gyms, tennis centre, community recreation centres, and theatres. In the summer Lynn Canyon is a popular hiking destination.
The City of North Vancouver’s greenway networks offer ‘linear greenways’ for moving through the city on foot or by bicycle. These include the Green Necklace linking parks & public places, the North Shore Spirit Trail under construction, Ravine Greenway System linking ravine parks, the Trans Canada Trail scheduled for completion in 2017, and the Upper Levels Greenway System.
North Van, while being a largely industrialized seaport along Burrard Inlet, is also home to the incredible beauty of Deep Cove and Indian Arm. Popular with kayakers, paddleboarders, canoeists and pleasure boaters, this area is a gorgeous peek-a-boo wander amid islets, coves and small seaside hamlets. Several parks and yacht basins are sprinkled throughout the area, and folks can choose to ‘real estate’ spelunk along the more populated shores or go farther in and up higher for more of a wilderness experience.
Shopping in North Van is spread out through several main communities: Lonsdale & Lonsdale Quay, Capilano Mall (90 shops and services), Lynn Valley Centre, and Marine Drive. There are many specialized shops located throughout North Vancouver, like Everything Wine, a private ‘wine superstore’ with a unique Vintages Room, and incredibly knowledgeable staff - along with hand-picked favorite wines, special spirits, and gifts. Mountain Equipment Co-op has a beautiful store just off Main Street for everything you would ever need for ‘recreating’.
Dining in North Van offers a range of experiences from fine dining at The Salmon House and The Observatory atop Grouse Mountain to Browns Socialhouse, the Rockford Wok Bar Grill, and Palki Indian Restaurant.
Lions Gate Hospital is a 268-bed facility with seven operating rooms, a wide range of diagnostic services and is the fourth busiest hospital in Vancouver, and one of only five neurosurgery centres in the province. It’s also the go-to hospital for patients from the Sunshine Coast and Powell River who need urgent care via helicopter or scheduled surgeries not offered in their smaller regional hospitals.
The North Vancouver School District 44 consists of a whopping 25 elementary schools, 7 secondary schools, North Van Distributed Learning, Summer School and the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art satellite campus. Program specializations include Aboriginal Education, Academies, Alternate Education, Culinary Arts, French Immersion, International Baccalaureate, Outdoor School and the innovative Peak Performance Program for elite-level student athletes and performers in grades 8-12.