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Every city has one - the picture-perfect municipality that has it all. Top-shelf amenities, irresistible activities, city-accessibility, amazing views.
Primarily home to an affluent community of well-deserving retirees and a contingent of young professionals seeking an early version of the same, West Vancouver is everything it seems to be and then some. In fact, possessing a postal code here is the geographical version of owning a Rolex - a Rolex with panoramic ocean and city views.
A part of metropolitan Vancouver, West Vancouver forms the North Shore Municipalities together with the District of North Vancouver and the City of North Vancouver and is bordered by the waters of Burrard Inlet and the Howe Sound. More simply put, it's what happens when you head north over the Lions Gate Bridge and hang an immediate left.
With an ever-growing population, this community of over 43 thousand was named a Cultural Capital of Canada in 2006 and is poised to be an integral venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
West Vancouver is home to Canada's first shopping mall, the Park Royal Shopping Centre which, since the 1950's, has grown to include 2 kilometers on either side of Marine Drive. In fact, 25 blocks of this thoroughfare make up a popular commercial strip known as Ambleside that includes restaurants, banks, shops and offices. But one particular block between 24th and 25th Streets stands out in both name and reputation: Dundarave - a charming village full of cafes, boutiques and various amenities. This and the adjoining Dundarave Park and Pier comprise the chic centre of this opulent area. Experience the open-air community theatre, walk along the seawall, watching luxury cruise ships arrive from up and down the West Coast or stroll the pier with its amazing views of the Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, Point Grey and Vancouver Island.
While we're talking about 'picturesque', nowhere corners the market quite like the neighbourhood of Horseshoe Bay. Nestled in a tiny cove surrounded by soaring mountains, this port community is a favourite destination for Vancouverites looking to dodge the frantic pace of city-life. Also acting as the BC Ferry terminal for Bowen Island, the Sunshine Coast and Nanaimo, many overlook this postcard-perfect township as they travel to Vancouver Island, Vancouver or Whistler. The smart traveler, however, will stop and enjoy the marina, shops, restaurants and pubs.
West Vancouver's luxury and leisure lifestyle is no better illustrated than in the British Properties. Since the 1930's, this neighbourhood has been central in the development of the entire municipality. With many developments built throughout the 1970s and 80s and even more springing up today, this superbly-landscaped community offers some of the city's most breathtaking views - a jewel in the Vancouver real estate crown. The kids can't appreciate property value yet? Take them to Eagle Harbour, a safe, friendly neighbourhood complete with community centre, walking and jogging trails and a beach! Something the area is not short on.
While most of this coastline is typically more rugged than its sister shores of English Bay and Kitsilano Beach across the Burrard Inlet, West Vancouver does boast several beaches with gentler terrain. Try Caulfeild or Ambleside Park, for instance. While both are popular spots come the weekend, you might be surprised to see how much of the sand you get to yourself Monday through Friday. You might also be surprised who you're sharing this marine park with - often, seals come ashore to sun themselves!
West Vancouver offers conventional activities as well. A handful of public recreation facilities provide swimming, skating, basketball, tennis and skateboard parks. Additionally, the area is home to 2 quality public golf courses: The 18-hole Ambleside Pitch and Putt Golf Course and the 9-hole Gleneagles Golf Club. Not all of West Vancouver's parks come equipped with holes and sand traps, however... Ambleside Park along with the 15 block-long West Vancouver Seawall provide hours of fun for families and fresh-air enthusiasts alike. The nearby Whytecliff Park is revered as a Western Canada scuba diving Mecca. And for breathtaking, romantic views of the glittering Vancouver cityscape, check out Lighthouse Park at Point Atkinson.