In between Vancouver’s inner city and their beloved park; Stanley park, rests a lively neighbourhood called West end. The combination of international students, young professionals, seniors and most importantly the LGBT community forms Vancouver’s most diverse neighbourhood. Davie village, which is the heart of the LGBT community, is fundamental to the West End’s identity and cultural significance. However, it is not just the characteristics that make this neighbourhood colourful. The streets are decorated by flags and crosswalks painted as rainbows. All to celebrate the inclusivity of the city. The centre of West end finds a diverse selection of great value restaurants, shops and bars. Especially Davie Street offers some great neighbourhood dining, with farm-to-table bistros, taco joints, burger bars and more. However, in order to escape the crowd, go to the English bay to enjoy the sunset. This beach is far less crowded than Kitsilano beach, however it has the same beautiful scenery.
Description of the greenery
Even though Stanley Park is not officially part of the West End neighbourhood, the two are mentioned together so often that it can certainly seem like it. Most people enter the park via West End anyway so they tend to combine them in one visit.
Stanley Park is Vancouver’s oldest park, and with its 400-hectares also its largest. Because it is this big, you could easily spend multiple days just exploring the park. One of the main features is the Vancouver Seawall, which is a stone wall that wraps completely around the park and continues along the beaches of West End, all the way to Kitsilano. This trail is about 22 kilometers long and extremely popular with both locals and tourists. It takes you by some of the main tourist attractions like the totem poles at Brockton Point, created by Canada’s original inhabitants, the First Nations. The original totem poles have been moved to museums for preservation, but here in the park are currently 9 replicas, complete with descriptions of the pole’s origin and creator. Along the rest of the Seawall there are many other places worth checking out: Lionsgate Bridge, views of the city’s skyline and multiple beaches to name a few. If you do decide to rent a bike, it is important to know that the lane for cycling and skating only goes one way (counterclockwise), this is to make the Seawall as enjoyable and safe as possible.
The heart of the park consists of lots of trees, hiking and cycling trails, and even a few lakes. There are also some restaurants to grab a bite, usually with a great view. If, after all of this, you still want to stay a little longer, you can go to the Vancouver Aquarium. The aquarium has over 50.000 animals and 30 exhibits ranging from arctic to exotic. Overall, Stanley Park is a place you have to see if you are ever in Vancouver!
Obviously, Davie street village clearly welcomes the LGBTQ1+ community. This shows a level of inclusivity for a minority (non-ethnic) minority otherwise unparallelled in Vancouver.
As the name suggests, the heart of the West End is built up as a village. According to urban planner Gordon Price, this means that there is a grocery store within walking distance of the homes, and that all relevant places are available without a car. This result of careful urban planning can be observed both when strolling down Davie Street, as well as in the residents’ choice of transport: Nearly half the population of the West End walks or cycles to work, indicating the accessibility of the neighbourhood.
Furthermore, a quarter uses public transport, further proving the availability of the neighbourhood. These facts, along with the knowledge that practically all housing is in apartments, averaging rents comparable to the total city of Vancouver, clearly state that the West End provides housing for inhabitants with average incomes.
The Ethnic Diversity is notable, with Chinese, Korean, Persian and Spanish speakers making up roughly 3% of the population each. This is again boosted by the beaches this neighbourhood features, that attract many tourists, especially in summer. Taking a stroll through the neighbourhood in these times shows the place buzzing with energy, with foreign languages spoken all around and restaurants, cafes and shops available to the extent that any downtown area of a small city can provide.
The average household income in West End is around CA$51k per year and this is low compared to the Vancouver average of CA$68k per year. Of this income, 45% of the residents spends 30% or more on housing. The housing in West End consists mostly of one bedroom apartement buildings of five stories or more. Of all the housing, 80% is rented, which is much higher than the average 43% rented housing in Vancouver. The average monthly rent in West End is exactly the average of Vancouver City, 1300 dollars a month. The unemployment rate in West End is only at 5,3% and about a fifth of its population falls into the low income population group according to Vancouver standards.
Based on income, the West End is not really polarized, and every percentile of income has about 10 % of its habitants, except the lowest percentile which has 19%. The gini-coefficient of West End is 0.45, indicating that it is only a little bit more polarized than Vancouver (0.48).
Education and well-being
80% of the inhabitants of West End have a post secondary education and of these around 50% has a college or bachelors degree and are therefore qualified for more high profile jobs. Around 75% participates in the labour force, which is quite high, and the unemployment rate has been around 6% over the last years. The sector in which most residents work are; Sales and service; Business, Finance, Administration; Management. On several well-being indicators such as mental health, feeling of belonging and general health, West End scores in the 50% aile. An important and striking indicator of what West End is like is that 81% of its residents feel safe walking at night. This is much higher than Vancouver’s average of 45%.
Overall, The West End is a very inclusive neighbourhood, featuring a wide range of people, both in economic status and ethnicity. This might be the most diverse neighbourhood we have encountered in the city. The only flaw is that there is virtually no presence of the economically less fortunate and first nations. That said, this clustering is to be expected, as this neighbourhood does not give the feeling that it is about ethnicity but more that any kind of person is welcome, with the financial burden of living present throughout Vancouver. We rate the diversity 5/5 for the purposes of the diversity possible in this city.
You would fit in here best if you fit these criteria:
- Make an average income (by Vancouver standards)
- Prefer to live amongst a community of your peers (LGBTQ1+ community, university students)
- Belong to various ethnic backgrounds