West Vancouver is a district municipality in the province of British Columbia, Canada. Part of Metro Vancouver, the municipality is northwest of the city of Vancouver on Burrard Inlet and Howe Sound, and is adjoined by the District of North Vancouver to its east. It forms the North Shore municipalities together with the District of North Vancouver and City of North Vancouver.
West Vancouver has a population of 42,131 (2006 census). As of 2007, the mayor is Pam Goldsmith-Jones. Cypress Provincial Park, mostly located within the municipal boundaries, will be one of the venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics. West Vancouver was also named a Cultural Capital of Canada for 2006. West Vancouver is also home of Canada's first shopping mall, Park Royal Shopping Centre.
The Municipality of West Vancouver was incorporated on March 15, 1912, after separating from the District of North Vancouver. The first municipal election was held on April 6, 1912. In November 1938, the Lions' Gate Bridge was opened to traffic, allowing extensive growth of the semi-populated community, previously only accessible by ferry. Some homes in West Vancouver date back to the 1920s and 30s, though most of the currently existing dwellings were built in the 1970s and 80s, and mostly in British Pacific Properties' developments.
West Vancouver is mainly a residential district as many residents are retired, work at home, or take the short commute to downtown Vancouver. A 25-block strip of Marine Drive serves as a commercial district, featuring shops, small offices, garages and gas stations, restaurants, banks, and other common amenities. This area is commonly known as 'Ambleside', with a one-block section separated from that area known as 'Dundarave'. West Vancouver is also home to Park Royal Shopping Centre, Canada's first mall. Opened in the 1950s, it now consumes 2 km of both sides of Marine Drive near North Vancouver, and is home to several department stores and large retailers, as well as many small retailers. Park Royal is also the largest mall on the North Shore, and is a bus terminal for Blue Bus and North Vancouver TransLink buses.
Ambleside Park and the 15 block long West Vancouver Seawall are popular spots for families and outdoor enthusiasts. Whytecliff Park is regarded as one of the best scuba diving spots in Western Canada. The District also has many other small parks, as well as scenic Lighthouse Park at Point Atkinson, with incredible views of Downtown Vancouver and Georgia Strait.
West Vancouver has several public recreation facilities including an 18-hole par 3 golf course, a pool, an ice rink, basketball and tennis courts, skateboard parks and numerous public parks. West Vancouver is also home to Cypress Provincial Park with mountain biking trails and a large ski and snowboard facility, and will be one of the venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The West Vancouver Memorial Library, located in Ambleside, has a circulation rate of 21.32 per capita, the highest circulation rate per capita in Canada.
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The only freeway route within municipal limits is British Columbia Highway 1 (part of the Trans-Canada Highway), which begins in the community of Horseshoe Bay and continues east into the District of North Vancouver. Highway 99 also runs through West Vancouver, sharing the freeway alignment with Highway 1 between Horseshoe Bay and Taylor Way, and connects the municipality with Downtown Vancouver (via the Lions' Gate Bridge) and Whistler (via the Sea-to-Sky Corridor).
West Vancouver is known for its parks such as Cypress Provincial Park, which offers scenic views of Howe Sound and the Metro Vancouver area. Those looking for a day-drive to see Howe Sound can enjoy Whytecliff Park and Horseshoe Bay Village, at the continental terminus of the Trans-Canada Highway. All of West Vancouver is situated on the side of the Coast Mountains. Because of this unique position, most homes in West Vancouver have views of Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, and/or Howe Sound.
West Vancouver is home to some very large and expensive properties and houses. Occasionally, houses have been priced and sold at around CAD$20,000,000. As of 2006, West Vancouver's average house sells for over CAD$1,250,000; 70% of the houses or close to 8,000 homes were worth over CAD$1 million. West Vancouver is often referred to as the most expensive municipality in Canada, though two Ontario municipalities west of Toronto (Oakville and Mississauga) are often considered contenders for the same title. 40% of the male population and 18% of the female population of West Vancouver earned over $60,000 in 2000. Average total incomes were $86,253 for males and $37,133 for females, almost double the provincial average. Over 50% of the population has a total family income of at least $90,000.
Federally, West Vancouver historically voted Liberal prior to 1974, then voted Conservative, electing John Reynolds of the Reform Party of Canada (later the Canadian Alliance) from 1997 to 2004. Reynolds declined to run for re-election in 2006, however, and Liberal Blair Wilson defeated Conservative John Weston to replace Reynolds as Member of Parliament from the West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country electoral district. Wilson left the Liberals in 2007 and joined the Green Party in 2008, becoming the first Green Member of Parliament.
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