One of the things that I always found a bit odd was how some people refer to everything outside of the City of Vancouver as “the suburbs.” Metro Vancouver is different than a lot of other regions in North America; we don’t have suburbs/bedrooms communities that service the central city.


Travel patterns in Metro Vancouver. Source: Gateway Program Report

In fact, the only true suburban/bedroom municipalities in Metro Vancouver are Anmore, Belcarra, and Bowen Island. The Tsawwassen First Nation lands are also suburban.

Every other municipality in the region has a mix of densities ranging from high to suburban. In Langley and Surrey, the only truly suburban areas are Port Kelly and Salmon River/Uplands. I’ll leave you to find these areas on a map. Other current suburban areas are being redeveloped into urban areas.

As I noted earlier this week, Metro Vancouver is a collection of complete communities. Jobs and housing is distributed throughout the region. Some people from the City of Vancouver leave their community for work, just like some people from Burnaby go to the City of Vancouver for their job.

Jobs and Pop - 2011

Population, dwelling unit and employment in Metro Vancouver member municipalities. 2011 baseline. Source: Metro Vancouver

Jobs and Pop - 2040

Projected growth in population, dwelling unit and employment in member municipalities. Source: Metro Vancouver

The really great things about our region is that it is a series of nodes. With proper funding for transit, these nodes would serve as the anchors which make viable high-quality transit from Langley to West Vancouver. We have the framework in place to build an auto-optional region for the majority of the population.

Given the built-form of the region, it’s no surprise that transit ridership has been increasing rapidly in the South of Fraser as TransLink has expanded service in the area.

Annual Bus Boardings (Millions)

Annual bus boardings between 2010 and 2014. More information at

This will be my last post of the week. Metro Vancouver is a great place to live. When urbanists only focus on placemaking in the City of Vancouver, and dismiss the rest of the region as a hinterland, it does everyone a disservice. If it wasn’t for the South of Fraser, where would all the Main Street Hipsters get their locally grown, organic food from?

Beyond that, the reason why Metro Vancouver works is because it is a federation of municipalities that have come together to improve the quality of life of all residents.

If you haven’t spent much time outside of the City of Vancouver, I invite you to start exploring the rest of the region. For great ideas for places to tour, check out the blog Fraseropolis. There’s a lot of cool things to see outside of the City of Vancouver.

Please be sure to check out my blog as well at