Transportation has always been central to Vancouver’s psyche. British Columbia agreed to join Canada only in exchange for a rail link to the centre of the continent. The city developed around the very spot where the first transcontinental rail line met the Pacific coast. And its name memorializes the first British sea captain to reach the area.
Blessed with one of the world’s best natural deep-water harbours, the shortest distances to Asia of any major North American city, and close proximity to the U.S., Vancouver was destined from its founding in 1886 to become a key international transportation hub. As global economic growth centres increasingly on the Pacific Rim, the city’s transportation assets become ever more valuable. And in an age of instant global communication, Vancouver is fortunate to be in a time zone that allows access to all three centres of world commerce (London, New York, Hong Kong) in a single working day.
As trans-Pacific traffic grows, Vancouver is investing heavily to maximize the economic opportunities. The governments of Canada and British Columbia—together with Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Vancouver’s international airport (YVR), the regional transit authority, the three Class 1 inter-continental railways that serve the port, and other private interests—are ambitiously upgrading the capacity and efficiency of Vancouver’s global gateway. Transportation investment commitments in the region to date total over $20 billion.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority was created in 2008 to bring together the three port authorities and increase regional efficiency. Already North America’s leading port in export tonnage, Vancouver expects to triple container flow by 2020, while minimizing environmental impact.
Vancouver’s award-winning airport (ranked second in the world in the 2008) is less than half an hour from downtown. Infrastructure investment is dramatically expanding capacity and includes a direct rapid-transit link to downtown. Cargo handling is expected to double by 2020. YVR airport has become a multi-modal hub and distribution centre, with companies like UPS and Fedex opening major, innovative facilities.
Global logistics planning and efficient delivery strategies are spurring development of a strong warehousing and distribution industry in Vancouver– a critical evolution as demand for “just in time” shipping grows. With the streamlining of customs procedures at the nearby U.S. border, the industry is expected to enjoy long-term growth.
Vancouver was a global city before the term was invented. Global inter-connectivity has only reinforced its diverse, multicultural nature. Combining indigenous cultures, longstanding ties to Europe, and historic ties to Asia, Vancouver embodies multiculturalism not as a slogan but as part of everyday life. One of the world’s leading tourist and culinary destinations, the city is renowned for world-class cooking that fuses cultural ingredients and influences with local sourcing and sustainable practices.
Cultural ties and family connections to other countries, combined with business-friendly immigration policies, make Vancouver fertile ground for professionals, international entrepreneurs and companies that provide services across cultures and national boundaries. More than 70 countries maintain a consular presence in Vancouver, providing institutional support for the many foreign-based firms that do business here and signaling Vancouver’s stature as a port and an international business centre.