Uncategorized October 6, 2015

A “Tree Rings” View of Residential Properties by Year Built in Metro Vancouver


A write-up is forthcoming, but here’s the chart and a link to an article on the chart in the Vancouver Sun.  A special thanks to BC Assessment and the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning.

Data Desk, Media, Research Papers September 15, 2015

The 2015 $1 million Line for Single Family Residential Properties in Metro Vancouver




Building upon the previous BTAworks $1 million line maps for the City of Vancouver, this map series expands the map area to cover the $1 million line for single family homes in Metro Vancouver for the 2014 and 2015 BC Assessments. With statistics and spatial data sets attained from BC Assessment, the Integrated Cadastral Information Society, and Metro Vancouver, the data was attained on an academic license through the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning where Andy Yan is also an adjunct professor. A special thanks to Tsur Somerville and his team for assembling the BC Assessment datasets!

Please note that, through data cleaning and editing on an expanded regional Geographic Information Systems spatial data and tabular Assessment dataset, calculations within these maps will slightly differ from previous BTAworks analyses on the City of Vancouver. Instead of using categories for Single Family Residences as defined by the City of Vancouver’s RS zoning, this map series uses BC Assessment’s “Actual Use Category Name” category of “S/F Res” which in addition to “Single Family Dwellings” which does include single unit owned “Duplexes”. Hence with a greater population as a denominator, assessment statistics in this analysis for the City of Vancouver will be generally smaller than previous entries.

The total assessment value which is the aggregate of land and structure values from the 2015 BC Assessment is used to categorize S/F Res properties as either above or under $1 million. While known as the 2015 Assessment, these values reflect a valuation made in July 2014. Note that Total Assessment Values for S/F Res properties worth a total of less than $100,000 were excluded in the map and value calculations. Certain calculations will differ between graphs due to rounding.

A special extension of this map series is the inclusion of estimated lifetime transportation costs to the total assessment values. Derived from the recently published (and magnificent) Metro Vancouver Housing and Transportation Cost Burden Study, these maps illustrate how housing values shift once transportation costs are accounted for. In an “H” (Housing) + “T” (Transportation) approach, it looks of connects housing affordability with transportation costs. Transportation costs are often excluded from housing costs of which provides a skewed impression on the actual costs of household maintenance. What initially seems like affordable single family residential housing away from the urban core and in a car dependent suburban location can be deceptive as it excludes the total costs of transportation of living in such communities.

The average annual 2011 transportation costs faced by working households who are owners with mortgages by municipalities was multiplied by 25 and 30 to reflect the possible lifetime costs of transportation for households in these municipalities and added to the total values of each properties in each municipality. Admittedly, this is a blunt means of transportation cost calculations, but, with further refinement, it is expected to better reflect the real total costs of living away from the town centers of the region and, in most cases, being car dependent. Future refinements such as using Net Present Value for lifetime transportation costs will likely further add more pressures of transportation costs onto housing values.  Note that the transportation data for Anmore, Belcarra, Lions Bay, Bowen Island, and Tsawwassen First Nation were not shown due to data reliability considerations.





Some key observations are:

  • 28 percent (111,659) of all Single Family Residences in Metro Vancouver had a total assessment of more than $1,000,000 in 2014
  • With the composition of Single Family Residences for each municipality, 100 percent of the Single Family Residences in the University Endowment Lands are valued at over $1 million followed the District of West Vancouver (95 percent), the City of Vancouver (62%), the Village of Belcarra (60%), the Village of Anmore (60%), and District of North Vancouver (50%).
  • From 2014 to 2015, the number of $1 million Single Family Residences in Metro Vancouver increased by 23 percent from 91,000 properties in 2014 to 111,659 properties in 2015.
  • The five largest percentage increases in the number of $1 million and above homes were found in the District of Maple Ridge (96% – 54 in 2014 to 106 in 2015), City of Port Moody (81% – 320 to 578), City of Port Coquitlam (79% – 43 to 73), the City of New Westminster (64% – 308 to 504), and the City of North Vancouver (52% – 1,221 to 1,858) Note that the City of Langley at 150% had the highest percentage growth in $1 million properties, but the growth comes from a small base of 2 in 2014 to 5 in 2015.
  • When transportation costs are accounted for over a 25 and 30 year basis, the number of single family properties worth over $1 million for various municipalities suddenly change.
  • For municipalities in the Township of Langley, the number of $1 million dollar homes increase 25 times from 3 percent to 75 percent, City of Port Coquitlam increases from 1 percent to 35 percent, and now more than a third to over a half of single family homes are now valued over $1 million.
  • When the H+T formula is applied to the cities of Vancouver, Richmond, and North Vancouver, the $1 million nearly disappears as all single family residences are worth over $1 million for the entire municipality.

Data Desk, Observations, Research Papers July 3, 2015

Demographic Correlations and the Metro Vancouver Transit Plebiscite: What the Results Say About Us


Image Source: Vancouver Observer

Andy Yan with Mark Heeney

In the aftermath of the results of the Metro Vancouver transit plebiscite, BTAworks wanted to see what kinds of demographic characteristics were the most correlated to “No” and “Yes” votes for a municipality. We looked at a number of variables such as percent of workers who were reliant on transit, median household income, type of housing as a percentage of city housing stock, residential tax rates, percentages of renters and owners, education levels, and the number of registered cars per 1,000 residents and how each might or might not be correlated with the percentage of “No” or “Yes” votes for each City in Metro Vancouver.

Using citywide data from the 2011 Census and National Household Survey from Statistics Canada and the results of the transit referendum from Elections BC, we performed a basic linear correlation table for the percentage of “Yes” and “No” votes with each demographic characteristic. A special credit to Metro Vancouver for its very rich data site on the region and its member municipalities.

Correlation coefficients of above .7 are considered strong correlations, .5 to .7 are considered moderate correlations, .3 to .5 are a low correlation, and 0 to .3 being negligible (essentially irrelevant) correlations while correlations with a minus sign indicate a negative relationship between variables (eg. the more of x, the less of y). A reference guide on correlation coefficients can be found here. Moreover, the classic statistician disclaimer of “correlation is not causation” still stands. This is also tempered with the caveat that given the small size of dataset (22 municipalities) that is currently available, observations may change such as if the data points and voter turnout increases from citywide characteristics to census tract levels of observations.

Education was the variable that was strongly correlated in our study to the “Yes” or “No” vote in the referendum. The higher a city had in terms of a percentage of population with only a high school education (0.746), the higher the percentage in most cases of a No vote. Conversely, the cities that had a greater population (in percentage terms) with university education (-0.732), the higher the percentage “Yes” votes.

The moderate correlations with a “No” vote were percentages of residential ownership and residential tax rates. Municipalities with high percentages of home ownership (0.608) and high residential property taxation (0.507) had a correlation to a high percentage of No votes.

For low correlations for a “Yes” vote, municipalities with high percentages of apartments (5 stories or higher) (-0.420) as part of their housing stock and a workforce reliant on transit (-0.307), they saw higher rates of a “Yes” vote.

Interestingly, median household income (0.0518), density (-0.106), percent of population renting (-0.148), registered cars per 1000 residents (0.192), voter turnout (0.093) were unimportant, with a negligible correlation for either a “Yes” or a “No” vote.

PowerPoint Presentation








Data Desk, Observations, Research Papers March 23, 2015

#GenerationTransit – Workers Reliant on Transit by Generation


In our continuing explorations of workers who are reliant on Transit, we look at transit usage by Generation. As with our previous Journey to Work examinations, the Statistics Canada 2011 National Household Survey Public Use Microdata File serves the primary data source for this brief. In this case, we decided to look at the transit reliant for workers by generations – Millennial (15-30) , Generation X (30-45), and Baby Boomers (45-60).  These generational categories are a bit arbitrary as specific generation definitions can vary from source to source, but we wanted to keep the analysis to 15 year every increments as per their availability on the National Household Survey. This is a survey of workers aged 15 years and older who listed “Public Transit” as their primary means of traveling to work in 2011.

Key results were:


  • About 20 percent of all workers in Metro Vancouver listed transit as their major mode of transportation to work.
    • Out of all transit reliant workers, Millennials (39%) are the most transit reliant followed by Generation X’ers (32%), and Baby Boomers (27%).
  • Transit Reliance by Workers varied significantly within each Generation:
    • Almost 1 in 3 millennial workers in Metro Vancouver rely on Transit to get to work.
    • 1 in 5 Generation X’ers rely on Transit to get to work.
    • 1 in 10 Baby Boomers rely on Transit to get to work

The results were unexpected as generational lines seemed to be very strong. There is, of course, the possibility that the age ranges were too arbitrarily drawn.  Moreover, transit usage may be a stage and related to the age of worker. We’ll explore this question by examining earlier datasets from the 1996 Census; however, given the significantly different methodologies between the Census and National Household Survey, we will proceed with caution as such as comparison has been called “risky” by some.  Nevertheless, some transportation planners and researchers have suggested that Millennial usage of transit represents a distinct and possible permanent trends for that generation in the United States and Canada. Indeed, many professional and journalist articles have focused on this change particularly on Millennials. With the impending transit plebiscite in Metro Vancouver, it is curious to see how these patterns and trends may affect voting by generation in the region.

Data Desk, Research Papers March 20, 2015

The #Hipsterhomelands of #Vancouver


Populations ebb and flow through the life of a City and the City of Vancouver is no exception. . This map as well as an article in the March 20, 2015 edition of the “Globe and Mail” by intrepid reporter Kerry Gold marks the changing settlement patterns of 25-39 year olds in the City. This age range (cohort in demographer speak) is particularly interesting as it is the time that typically completes its formal education, buys or rents its first home, starts households, and begins its families with children. From Hipsters growing into the ranks of the “Procreative Class”, this age range captures important demographic for a City.

Taken from Statistics Canada’s 2011 Census and mapped along dissemination areas (the smallest publicly available geographic unit of information in the census), we looked at where this population was settling and where it was leaving. Surprisingly or not, this population is leaving the neighbourhoods of multi-million dollar single family homes in the Southwest (the area south of Broadway and west of Main Street) in favour of neighborhoods centred around the downtown core and Mount Pleasant areas with enclaves on the Eastside of the City. While the number of 25-39 year olds in the City of Vancouver were stable between the 2001 and 2011 Censuses, this Southwest section of Vancouver saw a 17% decline for age group. These settlement decisions reflect the residential choices and tastes of a particular population, but also the forces of housing affordability, economy, and community in the City and Region of Vancouver.

We’re working on a regional version.

Data Desk, Observations March 18, 2015

A Step Back and One Vote to Go Forward: Numbers and Design for Transit in Metro Vancouver


Image Source: City of Surrey

By Michael Heeney and Andy Yan

The debate on the upcoming transit plebiscite has become a referendum on the management and performance of Translink and the extent to which a sales tax is the most appropriate means to fund transit infrastructure. The organization is not perfect and there is a temptation to use our vote as a protest; it’s worth stepping back and considering what’s at stake.

Using data from a customized query of the 2011 National Household Survey Public Use Microdata, we want to see who takes transit in the region.  In particular and because of data limitations, we focused on workers above the age of 15 in Metro Vancouver who responded with public transportation as the primary means of getting to work. To provide a context, we also looked at similar transit usage patterns for workers in the major American cities that are along the Pacific Coast from the 2011 American Community Survey.  The following are our some of findings

Metro Vancouver faces a generational turning point in how it develops. The expansion of an effective transit system is critical to its continued economic and environmental success as many cities in the region grow and densify. Metro has experienced tremendous growth over the past 30 years and now represents over 50% of BC’s population with 50% of its GDP on a patch that is 0.03% of province’s land mass. With so much on so little, how we get around on our daily commutes between work and home is even more critical than ever before.

One in five, or 20% of all Metro Vancouver workers take public transit to work and is well above the Canadian average of 13%. This is light years ahead of every metropolitan region on the Pacific Coast from Seattle (8%) to Portland (7%) to San Francisco (15%) to Los Angeles (6%) to San Diego (3%). Calgary, by the way, is 16%. If we were to slip to Calgary levels, Metro Vancouver would need to accommodate another 117,000 drivers on the road – imagine the new roads and bridges we would need for that!

Who is reliant on transit is just as important as how many. Over 210,000 Metro Vancouverites have decided to take transit to work instead of driving. This is slight smaller than the entire population of Burnaby (223,000) in 2012 that moves daily by transit to work everyday. Divided by gender, the majority (60%) of workers who take transit to work are women. Divided by age, 60% of these workers are under the age of 40. While a third are either in the retail trade or business services, overall transit riders are spread through every facet of our economy.

An effective transit network is critically important for connecting low income workers to their jobs and about 54% of transit reliant workers have total incomes of less than $30,000 a year. Slightly over 25% of these workers make over $50,000. A robust public transportation system that connects the region is one of the most important economic and social development tools we have.  For all workers, an efficient and robust public transportation system connects workers to their workplaces for those who choose to not to drive and those who cannot afford to drive.

As a region, we have done the right thing by offer workers viable alternatives to the car and need to continue to building this infrastructure to the new communities around Metro Vancouver. What is often missed is how big the Tranlink service area is intrusted to serve — the Translink service area is bigger than the systems found in Chicago, Montreal, and Toronto. While transit in the region is not perfect, Rush Reports reminded twice a day for five days a week on the television and radio about the inadequacies of a car dependent region.


The Metro Vancouver region is more interdependent than ever before. For example, more workers who live in Surrey now go to jobs within Surrey than commute between Surrey and Vancouver. The municipalities surrounding Vancouver have the most to lose in a “No” vote where they’ve seen tremendous amounts of growth in a very short amount of time – growth that is straining the aging transportation infrastructure and in places where there is no alternative but a car today.

From an architectural perspective, a well-thought transit system is the foundation of a sustainable city. Over 10 years ago a decision was made to locate a new university campus adjacent to a transit exchange in suburban Surrey. Students are significant users of transit with low incomes and very limited choices to drive. Today at SFU Surrey over 80 percent of students take transit to campus and Surrey City Centre is emerging to becoming the next great downtown in the region. A “Yes” vote continues a momentum in municipalities outside Vancouver like Surrey, Port Coquitlam, and North Vancouver for the next generation of their residents.

Contemporary architecture and planning use transit as the base of creating wonderful communities that are economically, socially, and ecologically sustainable. However, in order to continue to do this effectively there needs to be more certainty in how, when and where transit is developed — a ‘Yes’ vote in this plebiscite begins to establish this certainty. A protest “No” vote will not ensure that Translink is more accountable, user responsive, and transparent. For this to occur, we need to look to the municipal and provincial elections and those we elect.

Michael Heeney is a principal with Bing Thom Architects and Andy Yan, a planner with BTA, is also an adjunct professor at the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia.

Note: A version of this Opinion piece was published in the paper and electronic March 17, 2015 editions of the Province newspaper. To see the piece, click this link.

Data Desk, Research Papers March 17, 2015

Islands in a Rising Tide: The 2015 $1 Million Line for Single Family Properties in the City of Vancouver



1mLine_RedBlue2010_2015-animation-newClick the above image to activate .gif animation




Click the above image to activate .gif animation


A special thanks to Pete McMartin from the Vancouver Sun. To read his opinion piece on the maps, please click here. Additional thanks to Emily Jackson from Vancouver Metro and Andrea Woo from the Globe and Mail on their coverage.

The 2015 BTAworks $1 Million Line edition marks the fourth edition of this map. Since 2011, we have mapped the change in total assessment values for Vancouver single family properties through data made available on the City of Vancouver’s Open Data Catalogue. This year’s analysis followed in the footsteps of previous maps, but the 2015 editions have been based on more edited property assessment value datasets that excludes properties that are classified as single family parcels such as those in parks or right of ways.

In addition to total assessed values over and under $1 million, we have included a breakdown of properties categories in $1 million intervals as well as included an animated gif for both map types. It is important to note that assessment values are not necessarily current market values and reflect assessments as of July of the previous year so an assessment value of 2015 was made in July 2014 and 2010 was made in July 2009. Not all property assessments could be traced from the 2015 to 2010 assessments. After this data editing, the final total data universe was about 68,600 viable properties/records. To place the changes in assessment values in context, inflation adjusted 2010 assessment values were also used.

Some key observations are:

  • There is no longer a distinct $1 million line in the City of Vancouver, but rather clusters of sub-$1 million Single Family Properties (SFP) surrounded by a rising tide of $1 million and above SFPs.
  • In 2015, 66 percent of all Single Family Properties in the City of Vancouver have a total assessment of over $1 million. In 2010, when adjusted for inflation, 33 percent of all SFPs in the City of Vancouver were assessed at more than $1 million.
    • 99 percent of Single Family Properties west of Ontario Street were assessed at over $1 million in 2015.
    • 44 percent of Single Family Properties east of Ontario Street are over $1 million in 2015.
  • The number of luxury properties (worth over $5 million) nearly tripled from 373 in 2010 to 1,282 in 2015.
  • There are no longer any single family properties in the City of Vancouver with total assessments under $500,000 in 2015.
  • Total assessments for all SFPs increased by 11% on the average in the City of Vancouver.
    • Out of the City of Vancouver’s 20 planning areas, South Cambie saw the highest percent increases of 15% followed by a four way tie of Single Family Properties in Kensington-Cedar Cottage, Mount Pleasant, Riley Park, and West Point Grey (14%). At 8%, single family properties in Arbutus-Ridge saw the lowest increases.
  • Between the 2015 to 2010 Assessment Years, the fastest growing value category were homes assessed at between $4 million to $5 million grew by 408% followed by homes between $3 to $4 million by 363% and homes worth more than $5 million which grew by 243%.
    • The only value category to decline in number were single family properties under $1 million by 45%.




Data Desk, Media, Public Programming, Research Papers October 15, 2014

Vancouver in the 21st Century – THANK YOU!


A belated thank you to SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement, SFU Woodwards,  and the City of Vancouver’s City Planning Commission for hosting “Vancouver in the 21st Century”.  With over 250 attendees, the event was a great success towards getting citizens to engage in the future social, economic, and planning issues of the City and its region as well as wonderful fundraiser for the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House. Here’s a short list of the media coverage on the event (in chronological order) as well as the three part series of the City and Regional economic sections of the presentation with Pete McMartin from the Vancouver Sun.

Jen St. Denis. September 25, 2014. Business in Vancouver. Vancouver’s huge income-to-home-price gap will continue to challenge city: planner

Frances Bula. September 28, 2014. Globe and Mail. Study suggests Vancouver mayoral candidates should target ‘super-engagers’

Pete McMartin. October 1, 2014. Vancouver Sun. Lotus Land or Lowest Land?

Pete McMartin. October 4, 2014. Vancouver Sun. To have (expensive houses) and have not (money)

Pete McMartin. October 6, 2014. Vancouver Sun. Does Metro have room for a future?

We have also included a selected slide show presentation from the talk. To access the slidedeck, click above slide or here.  To see a video of the full talk and panel on Vancouver in the 21st Century, click here.


Media, Public Programming September 18, 2014

A Reading List on Vancouver in the 21st Century

IMG_20140830_143656 (2)

In eager anticipation of the “Vancouver in the 21st Century” talk at SFU Woodwards on September 23, this is a recommended reading list for some of the topics that will be covered in the address and the panel discussion. A look into the future often begins with a gaze into the past and these articles and books present important ideas and backgrounds in the past, present, and future of Vancouver and its Region. We hope it serves as a beacon on an informed and engage dialogue on the future of the City and the region. For readings on foreign investment in Vancouver real estate, please click here.   If readers have recommendations for additional pieces, please add them to the comments below. Thanks!


Planning, Architecture, and Design

Berelowitz, Lance. 2005. Dream City: Vancouver and the Global Imagination. Douglas & McIntyre.

Cameron, Ken and Harcourt, Mike. 2007. City Making in Paradise: Nine Decisions that Saved Vancouver. Douglas & McIntyre.

Campbell, Larry, Culbert, Lori, and Boyd, Neil. 2009. A Thousand Dreams: Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and the Fight for its Future. Greystone Books Ltd.

Coupland, Douglas. 2009. City of Glass: Douglas Coupland’s Vancouver. D&M Publishers’ Inc.

Delany, Paul. 1994. Vancouver: Representing the Postmodern City. Arsenal Pulp Press.

Design Centre for Sustainability. 2007. Greater Vancouver GreenGuide: Seeding Sustainability. New Society Publishers.

Enright, Robert. 2010. Body Heat: The Story of the Woodward’s Redevelopment. Blueimprint.

Gutstein, Donald. 1975. Vancouver Ltd. James Lorimer & Company Ltd.

Hayes, Derek. 2005. Historic Atlas of Vancouver. Douglas & McIntyre.

Hern, Matt. 2010. Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defense of an Urban Future. Ak Press

Herzog, Fred. 2011. Fred Herzog: Photographs. D&M Publishers Inc.

Hutton, Thomas. 2010. The New Economy of the Inner City: Restructuring, Regeneration, and Dislocation in the 21st Century Metropolis. Routledge.

Itter, Carole and Marlatt, Daphne. 2011. Opening Doors: In Vancouver’s East End: Strathcona. Harbour Publishing.

Kluckner, Michael. 2006. Vancouver Remembered. Whitecap Books.

Kluckner, Michael. 2012. Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 25 Years. Whitecap Books.

Kalman, Harold. 2012. Exploring Vancouver: The Architectural Guide. D&M Publishers Inc.

Kheraj, Sean. 2013. Inventing Stanley Park: An Environmental History. UBC Press.

Ley, David. 2010. Millionaire Migrants: Trans-Pacific Lifelines. Wiley.

Luxton, Donald. Building the West: The Early Architects of British Columbia. Talon Books.

MacDonald, Bruce. 1992. Vancouver: Visual History. Talon Books.

MacDonald, Christopher. 2010. A Guidebook to Contemporary Architecture in Vancouver. D&M Publishers Inc.

Mate, Gabor. 2009. In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. Knopf Canada.

Metro Vancouver. 2011. Regional Growth Strategy: Vancouver 2040. Weblink.

Perez-Gomez, Alberto, Grabowski, Christopher, and Green, Jim. 2007. Towards an Ethical Architecture: Issues within the Work of Gregory Henriquez. Simply Read Books.

Punter, John. 2004. The Vancouver Achievement. UBC Press.

Russwurm, Lani. 2013. Vancouver was Awesome. Arsenal Pulp Press.

Stouck, David. 2013. Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life. D&M Publishers Inc.

Soules, Matthew. 2013. The Livable Suburbanized City: Post Politics and a Vancouver Near You. Harvard Design Magazine (Weblink).

Walsh, Robert M. 2013. The Origins of Vancouverism: A Historical Inquiry into the Architecture and Urban form of Vancouver, British Columbia. University of Michigan Doctorate Dissertation (Weblink).

Winson Liscombe, Rhordri. 1997. The New Spirit: Modern Architecture in Vancouver, 1938-1963. The MIT Press.

Of course, in the spirit of pure transparency and disclosure, we think this book on another local architect is pretty cool too.


Social Histories of Metro Vancouver

Barman, Jean. 2007. Stanley Park’s Secret: The Forgotten Families of Whoi Whoi, Kanaka Ranch, and Brockton Point. Harbour Publishing.

Bown, Stephen. 2008. Madness, Betrayal and the Lash: The Epic Voyage of Captain George Vancouver. D&M Publishers Inc.

Barnholden, Michael. 2005. Reading the Riot Act: A Brief History of Riots in Vancouver. Anvil Press.

Cameron, Stevie. 2011. On The Farm: Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver’s Missing Women. Knopf Canada.

Chong, Denise. 2006. The Concubine’s Children: Portrait of a Family Divided. Penguin Group Canada

City of Vancouver. 2014. First Peoples: A Guide for Newcomers. City of Vancouver. Web publication.

Davis, Chuck. 2011. The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver. Harbour Publishing.

Demers, Charles. 2009. Vancouver Special. Arsenal Pulp Press.

Gilmour, Julie. 2014. Trouble on Main Street: Mackenzie King, Reason, Race and the 1907 Vancouver Riots. Allen Lane Canada.

Kazimi, Ali. (2011). Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru. D&M Publishers Inc.

Purvey, Diane and Belshaw, John. 2011. Vancouver Noir: 1930-1960. Anvil Press.

Vogel, Aynsley and Wyse, Dana. 2009. Vancouver: A History in Photographs. Heritage House Publishing.

Weyler, Rex. 2005. Greenpeace: The Inside Story: How a Group of Ecologists, Journalists, and Visionaries Changed the World. Raincoast Books.

Yee, Paul. Saltwater City: Story of Vancouver’s Chinese Community. D&M Publishers Inc.


Data Desk, Research Papers July 28, 2014

Visualizing Commute Patterns in Metro Vancouver


Using the 2011 National Household Survey, this blog entry looks at the flows of workers (with fixed workplaces) between the 5 largest municipalities of Metro Vancouver and their commutes between their places of residence to places of work by census subdivision (commonly equivalent to local municipality). While it would have been ideal to show these flows amongst all 21 municipalities, one treaty First Nation and one Electoral Area of Metro Vancouver, we chose to focus the commute flows of the five largest municipalities of the region by population – Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, Coquitlam, and Surrey for the sake of graphical legibility. For a fuller breakdown of Metro Vancouver, please see Chad Skelton’s article on Metro Vancouver commute patterns in the Vancouver Sun and, for the original data, used in both analyses, click this link for the Statistics Canada Commuting Flow data page.

To graphically illustrate where workers who living in Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, Coquitlam, and Surrey are commuting, BTAworks is using a chord diagram generated by Circos, a visualization software package developed by Martin Krzywinski at the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre at the BC Cancer Agency and used to visualize genomic data and molecular biology, the above diagram was generated by mashing up Circos with Place of work data from Statistics Canada.

With these limitations in mind, a pattern immediately worth noting is how most workers commute within their municipality of residents.  Far from a “Central City-Suburb” model of workers living in the suburbs and commuting in Downtown Vancouver, the majority or, in certain cases, pluralities of workers live and work in their municipality of residents . For example, 68 percent of residents in Vancouver work in Vancouver, 46 percent of workers who live Surrey work in Surrey, 36 percent of Burnaby residents work in Burnaby, 55 percent of residents in Richmond work in Richmond, and 24 percent of Coquitlam residents work in Coquitlam.  For a full explanation on how to read the chart, please click here. Metro Vancouver is increasingly a region of interdependent as opposed to a dominant central city fed by largely residential suburbs and perhaps a positive indicator of regional growth strategies that over the last 30 years have focused on creating a distributed network of town centres spread throughout the region.  More analysis on this chart coming soon.

A special addendum from Andy Coupland, City of Vancouver data guru, from the perspective of 1971:

83 percent of residents in Vancouver work in Vancouver, 61 percent of workers who live in Surrey+White Rock work in Surrey+White Rock, 33 percent of Burnaby residents work in Burnaby, 44 percent of residents in Richmond work in Richmond, and 23 percent of Coquitlam residents work in Coquitlam.