Although Vancouver is only the eighth largest Canadian city, it is the fourth most densely populated city in North America after New York City, San Francisco and Mexico City. Sitting on the Pacific Ocean, its large natural harbor has made it the busiest port in Canada.
Vancouver – Been There

A high-flying lesson in economics

Photo by Ton Koene

Vancouver – Been There A high-flying lesson in economics

Downtown Vancouver can look like any other North American city, but a floatplane tour is a chance to experience a very different side of this Canadian gem.

Kieran Meeke
Kieran Meeke Travel Writer

We take off from the water towards a hill of bright yellow sulfur awaiting export, then bank away from Vancouver before flying along the coast. Within minutes we are soaring past Grouse Mountain, where I hiked and mountain biked on a previous summer visit and where skiers and boarders play in winter, then past even higher peaks still topped with snow. As we return, the city is laid out beneath me, looking almost insignificant against the scale of the rugged West.

The beautiful setting illustrates the reason for Vancouver’s high property prices. With the Pacific on one side and mountains on the other, land is at a premium – in contrast to the vast expanses of the rest of Canada. One solution to the cramped setting is to build upwards, as I can see in those shiny skyscrapers and the ranks of apartment blocks lining the shore where we come in to kiss the water again.

Back on the ground, Vancouver has a North American anonymity that allows it to pass for anywhere from New York to Chicago on film. Downtown malls sit beside redbrick office blocks from the 1930s, while the grid of wide streets and avenues is filled with cars, pick-ups and buses built to Detroit-size scale. Only the details must frustrate the location scouts: Tim Horton coffee shops, Maple Leaf flags and billboards with hockey stars. And those beautiful snow-capped peaks filling the view at the end of the street.

Want more TRVL? Grab our newsletter here!

e1w1bf

The Lost Lagoon in Vancouver is an artificial lake created by the building of a causeway in 1916 to connect Stanley Park to the city. Stanley Park, one of the largest urban parks in North America, was originally set aside in 1888 and was voted the best park in the world in 2014. Photo by David Nunuk / Alamy

David Nunuk

David Nunuk

Agency
Alamy

The Lost Lagoon in Vancouver is an artificial lake created by the building of a causeway in 1916 to connect Stanley Park to the city. Stanley Park, one of the largest urban parks in North America, was originally set aside in 1888 and was voted the best park in the world in 2014.

Other stories about Vancouver