The census population was 44,543 in 2011 – a small decline from 44,556 in 2006.  (Includes the Georgia-Alberni Corridor.)

The West End is now the fourth most densely populated neighbourhood on the downtown peninsula.  (The densest neighbourhood in Vancouver is actually Collingwood Village at Joyce Station.)



The West End is slowly stabilizing, even though the percent of rented buildings is 81 percent.

Population who moved since the last census:

1996 – 71.7%

2001 – 68.3%

2006 – 66.4% (compared to 50.2%  City of Vancouver)

Median household income ($38,581) is lower than in the city overall ($47,299).

The average rent for a West End one bedroom apartment is $1,151 (the citywide average is $1,045).

This is what makes the West End so critical: It is a lower-middle-income neighbourhood, primarily of renters, in a very expensive city.  To a considerable extent, this is possible because West Enders don’t require cars – an expenditure that would take at least $5,000/year (generously subtracting some transportation expenditures from the Canadian average of $10,000/car).  And that money applied to housing makes the West End a realistic alternative for that income group.  Indeed, the percentage of the population in low income households (32.8%) is higher than in the city overall (26.6%).

The West End also contains the fourth highest density of children of any Local Area in the city, with an average of 8.8 children per hectare.

More details here.


An Addendum from the past:

When Tom Campbell (Vancouver alderman and mayor from from 1961-1972) died, there was been some reflection in the obituaries. But the most interesting one was by ex-mayor Sam Sullivan:

In the 1960s the neighborhood of single detached houses in the West End made way for over 200 residential towers. In pockets around the city like Kerrisdale, Kitsilano, near UBC, residential towers arose providing housing for seniors and young people, dramatically improving neighborhood environmental performance, increasing social diversity and keeping the price of housing in check. I was awestruck that any city government could have achieved this.

I came to understand that it was under the government of Tom Campbell that most of this was achieved. Strange. The writers of Vancouver history have always told a less than flattering story of him. As much as I searched I couldn’t find anything in the “official canon” that said much positive about this period. His was an era of political insensitivity and avarice and its end ushered in the “livable city”.

Indeed, not much has been flattering.  This particular Campbell will always be branded by the anti-hippie image he created for himself.

But Sam, I think, goes a little too far in giving him credit for the transformation of the West End.

Up until 1956, it was indeed a neighbourhood of what looked on the surface to be single-family houses, with a few old streetcar apartment buildings scattered among them.  The Sylvia Hotel, at eight storeys, was the tallest building.

Then it all changed.  In 1956 came the City’s first Zoning and Development Bylaw.  Here’s what I wrote in my summary, The Deceptive City, available here:

In 1956, when theWest End was rezoned, it was felt to be a decaying streetcar neighbourhood, ready for urban renewal by the private sector. The highest building was a mere eight storeys.  By 1972, the end of the boom, it had added hundreds of mediocre concrete boxes, some over 30 storeys.

What really happened, though, was even more astonishing.  The number of dwelling units quintupled between 1951 and 1981 – no surprise there.  And yet, the population went from about 26,000 people in 1941 to 37,500 in 1971, and then levelled off.  Consider: the population did not even double – though the number of housing units went up five times.

What happened?  The community actually uncrowded, as towers of spacious one-bedroom apartments replaced the low-rise tenements disguised as single-family houses, in which whole families had to share a few rooms and a washroom down the hall.


  1. Thanks for sharing theses interesting but depressing stats. In this era of environmental awareness the population of the best-performing neighborhood in the region has actually gone down!
    The average resident of the West End creates 20% of the greenhouse gas and consumes 10% of the land of those in the most distant suburbs. There is no single environmental initiative that would accomplish more for our planet and region than to increase the densities in the central area.
    The political revolution of 1973 brought many wonderful benefits and fundamentally changed values and systems at City Hall whose influence continues up to today. But in hindsight it froze densities in the city and ushered in the period of suburban sprawl.
    In my search for the “father” of the West End I can find no better candidate than Tom Campbell. He and his father were developing in the West End and advocating for zoning changes in the 1950s and his term as Alderman and Mayor 1962-1973 was concurrent with its greatest growth. There is no doubt that the development was a gentrification of what went before with more spacious suites and higher quality building [the more things change the more they stay the same]. Once we get past the fact that he said some mean things about hippies I think he will be recognized for his achievements.

  2. I tried you link to The Deceptive City and I got Error 403

    You don’t have permission to access /writings/THE DECEPTIVE CITY.doc on this server.

  3. Not everyone wants to live in a dense neighborhood. A city like Vancouver needs variety: single family homes, duplexes, townhouses, low rises, mid rises & highrises.

    Vancouver needs to be more pedestrian oriented. Why is Robson not a ped zone from stadium all the way to Stanley Park, a real attraction to stroll, eat and shop. The mayor is moving far too slow in reducing car use downtown.

    How about a$20 charge for each vehicle entering downtown , like Stockholm or London.

    The ” we are so green” label is shocking. Vancouver is still a car city, primarily because gasoline is so cheap, parking is so cheap and public transit lacking.

    We can do better.

  4. The media was too interested in adding to the Art Phillips hagiography than to give Tom Terrific his due. Ironic, as ultimately the TEAM championed pattern exemplified by False Crek South lost out to that set by Campbell and his contemporaries: highrises full of standardized, commoditized units.

    I got a checkle out of Sam Sullivan’s comment: “His was an era of political insensitivity and avarice and its end ushered in the “livable city”. Many would say the same of Vision Vancouver, though that rosy outcome is far from certain.

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