An economic and cultural center, the city has undergone major transformations in recent years.
Long gone are the pawnshops and head shops and vacant land of decades past in Lower Lonsdale. In their place: a vibrant cultural and pedestrianized heart of the city, as well as an ever-expanding mix of accommodation options.
Fun in all seasons
If you are looking for the younger and more trendy version of the Côte-Nord, you will find them in town. Whether it’s attending a festival in the revitalized Shipyards District, enjoying a pint in the thriving brewery district, or stopping for an exhibition at the breathtaking Polygon Gallery or the brand new MONOVA: Museum of North Vancouver, the city brings a dose of modern spice to the laid-back atmosphere of the North Shore.
With its glittering views of Burrard Inlet as a backdrop, the city’s shipyard district is the jewel in its Lower Lonsdale crown. Built on the site of the former Versatile Pacific shipyard, since it opened three years ago, the pedestrianized area at the foot of Lonsdale Avenue has managed to mix crowd-pleasing restaurants, a regular night market and venues for public and private events. In the summer, outdoor music festivals, concerts, and movie nights add to the lively scene, while families can cool off in the water park.
Last September, the Shipyard Festival took place with a lineup of killer bands. In winter, the outdoor skating rink is also a popular destination. This year’s cool weather has seen the rink’s regular season extended beyond its usual February closing date until after spring break. In April, the shipyards also played host to the popular national Rogers Hometown Hockey celebration.
Future improvements, funded by the province, will include efforts to transform The Shipyards into a true four-season destination.
On the cultural front, the photography-based Polygon Gallery provides a visually stunning entry to the Shipyards District that won three architecture awards last year.
December also marked the opening of the new Museum of North Vancouver (or MONOVA, as it prefers to be known), after decades of planning for a new home.
Unlike museums of previous generations, however, this museum is not just about the past. It’s also very much about how the past informs and shapes the present.
The city is the smallest municipality on the North Shore, but it packs a punch. It is the most densely populated area, with around 10 times the population density of its more suburban neighbors.
Compared to the rest of the North Shore, the population of the city of North Vancouver is also growing at a much faster rate. The population increased by about 10%, from about 53,000 people to 58,000 between 2016 and 2021.
The inhabitants of the city are also younger. Millennials, or those between the ages of 25 and 40, make up only 10.8% of West Vancouver’s population, but make up 25% of the city’s population.
Over the past decade, the number of children living in the city has also increased by 17%.
The strong population growth of the city is partly explained by its varied housing stock. Far fewer people live in single-family homes in the city than in neighboring areas of the North Shore. In fact, the majority of people live in apartments.
Not surprisingly, some areas of the city have grown faster than others. The blocks around bustling Lower Lonsdale have been some of the fastest growing areas, while Central Lonsdale and new developments around Moodyville have all seen recent booms.
Like the rest of the North Shore, living in the city of North Vancouver is not cheap. Condo assessed values have increased by an average of 10% between 2021 and 2022, taking a condo worth $690,000 last year to $762,000 this year. More recently, the median sale price of a “benchmark” condo in North Vancouver was over $800,000.
The city of North Vancouver’s roots as a booming high-rise paradise for city dwellers go back decades, when the city sold land it owned in the Lower Lonsdale area for development, which revived the trend of skyscrapers and also inflated the coffers of the city. . More recently, the city has focused its efforts on redeveloping the key urban areas of Lower and Central Lonsdale to meet housing demand. “Soft density” is being added to previously single-family neighborhoods in some central areas of the city, through zoning approvals for duplexes and townhouses.
Making space for affordable housing also continues to be a priority. Earlier this year, tenants moved into a new affordable housing project on East 20th in Central Lonsdale which has 85 rentals below market after more than a decade of development.
Race to add rapid transit
Other purpose-built rental apartment projects, some of which are to be maintained at below-market rates, are currently underway for Upper Lonsdale and Mosquito Creek.
And 27 families moved into the city’s second cohousing project in the past year, as part of a project to create “social sustainability and resilience.”
Along with increasing housing options, the City of North Vancouver has long advocated for better transportation on the North Shore. The city, along with other municipalities on the North Shore, lobbied TransLink for better rapid transit, including Marine Drive RapidBus service. He has also been a strong proponent of “more active transportation”, including the cycle network for all ages.
In 2021, the North Shore e-bike share program launched in the city, hitting the streets with e-bike sharing provider Lime rolling out a fleet of 200 e-bikes for rent.
On the horizon for the future: a plan to add significant active transportation infrastructure through a proposed greenway north of the Upper Levels Freeway through the Westview and Tempe neighborhoods. If all this talk of biking, walking, and running has made you thirsty, you’re in luck!
The city of North Vancouver’s brewery district on East Esplanade is growing by leaps and bounds. Originals like Beere Brewing and House of Funk were soon joined by other craft brewers like Shaketown Brewing, Copperpenny Distillery, Windfall Cider, Streetcar, North Point and newcomer Braggot Brewing. The area’s breweries and distilleries now number over a dozen – perfect for your next pub crawl.
More food trucks and carts are also being welcomed into the city of North Vancouver this summer at designated locations, as part of a pilot program.
That’s a lot of activity to pack into a limited geographic space, but the city isn’t resting on its laurels. On tap for the future, a plan to revitalize a new destination in the Harbourfront area of the city, including a new public plaza at the foot of Fell Avenue, a children’s play area, improving the shoreline habitat and an off-leash dog area as part of the Kings Mill Walk Park Master Plan.
The other major project underway is the reconstruction of the city’s Harry Jerome Community Leisure Center in Upper Lonsdale, due to open in 2025.