Demographics of Vancouver
The Demographics of Vancouver concern population growth and structure for Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Figures given here are for the Greater Vancouver Regional District, however, not for the City of Vancouver proper.
- 1 Population growth
- 2 Homelessness
- 3 Ethnic origin
- 4 Religion
- 5 References
- 6 Notes
- 7 Further reading
The following table shows the development of the number of inhabitants according to census data of Statistics Canada. The former municipalities of Point Grey and South Vancouver are not included in the data prior to 1931. NB Vancouver did not exist as such at the time of the 1881 and 1871 censuses.
The 2011 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count revealed that there were at least 2,650 people found to be homeless in Metro Vancouver. This particular homeless count is and continues to be conducted once every three years, taking place over a brief 24-hour period. The report published on these results stated, “It is important to note that all Homeless Counts are inherently undercounts and that the 2011 Metro Vancouver Count was no exception." Nonetheless, these counts can be used as indicators to determine homelessness trends within Metro Vancouver. Between 2002 and 2005, “the count revealed that homelessness in the region nearly doubled from 1121 to 2174 persons."  From 2005 to 2008, the count revealed a much smaller increase in homelessness, from 2174 to 2660 persons. Thus, it should be noted that the count conducted in 2011 implies that the homeless population has remained relatively stable between 2008 and 2011.
Of the homeless people surveyed in 2011, “71% were sheltered in either an emergency shelter, safe house, transition house or temporary facility such as a hospital, jail or detoxification center…while 29% slept in outdoor locations or at someone else’s place."  74 of the 2,650 homeless persons counted were children – those under the age of 19 – who accompanied a parent who was also homeless. Furthermore, of the homeless youth surveyed, 102 individuals were under the age of 19, 221 between the ages of 19-24, and 74 whose ages could not be identified, for a total of 397 homeless. Adults constituted the largest cohort of homeless in Metro Vancouver with 275 individuals between the ages of 25-34, 328 between the ages of 35-44, and 397 between the ages of 45-54, for a total of 1,000 homeless. Lastly, seniors – those above the age of 55 – constituted 268 homeless people. Of the 2,650 people identified in the count, ages for 985 people could not be provided.
Homelessness doesn’t occur suddenly, rather it is a progression wherein an individual becomes part of the group of ‘at risk’ individuals, remains in this group for some time, and then, finally, becomes homeless due to economic hardships and social dislocation. “Contemporary definitions split homelessness into two broad groups: ‘absolute’ homelessness, which refers to persons or households literally without physical shelter, and ‘relative’ homelessness, which includes a range of housing situations characterized as being at-risk of homelessness."  Indeed being classified as at-risk of homelessness does not imply that an individual or household will become homeless in the future, only that various pre-conditions exist that may lead to this. These pre-conditions include, but are not restricted to the following: people living in SROs (Single Room Occupancy), people living in rooming houses, and people paying more than 50% of their net income towards housing costs. “Two-thirds of responses from homeless individuals enumerated in a recent homeless count in Greater Vancouver cited economic reasons for their being homeless – with lack of income and cost of housing accounting for 44% and 22% of responses respectively." 
Housing affordability has and continues to be the top priority housing issue Vancouverites must resolve. In 1996, a study published by BC Housing revealed that 25% of renter households in Vancouver pay 50% or more of their incomes to rent. The core housing need model, developed by the CMHC, uses a threshold of households spending at least 30% of their income on shelter costs to illuminate households experiencing acute housing affordability needs. “Moving from the 30% shelter cost-to-income ratio (STIR) used in the core housing need model, to a 50% threshold, typically reduces the number of households identified by more than half."  In 2001, Statistics Canada published a study using both the 30% and 50% thresholds to identify renters and homeowners facing unaffordable housing costs in Metro Vancouver. This study revealed that 8.1% of homeowners and 27.8% of renters exceeded the 30% threshold, while 4.0% of homeowners and 10.8% of renters exceeded the 50% threshold. More in depth still, this study also found that 18.5% of immigrants living in Vancouver exceeded the 30% threshold and 8.0% exceed the 50% threshold. Only 11.3% and 4.8% of Canadian born households exceeded the 30% and 50% thresholds, respectively.
Heather Smith and David Ley found that in Canada's gateway cities, “the appreciable growth of the low-income population during the 1990s was almost entirely attributable to the growing poverty of recent immigrants."  They go on to state, “adult immigrants who had landed in the previous decade endured a poverty rate of…37 percent in Vancouver."  Immigrants, recent and old, therefore constitute a large proportion of households in Metro Vancouver considered to be at-risk of homelessness. Analysis conducted by Robert Fiedler revealed that, in 2001, “29.1% of persons in households…in Greater Vancouver are below more than one CMHC housing standard, indicating that…some households not only must spend an unsustainably high proportion of their income on shelter costs, but must also live in overcrowded and/or substandard conditions to access housing."  Although many new immigrants to Canada come from educated backgrounds, many having Bachelor’s degrees, they are paid less on average than Canadian born individuals and “Over the past 25 years, the incomes of recent immigrants to Canada have progressively declined relative to the native-born." 
Recently, the City of Vancouver released a new strategy targeting homelessness and affordable housing. The strategy will be enacted in 2012 and will run until 2021, with the goal of ending street homelessness completely by 2015, as well as increasing affordable housing choices for all Vancouverites. The City of Vancouver indicates that from 2002 to 2011, “homelessness has increased nearly three-fold” from approximately 628 homeless in 2002, to 1,605 homeless in 2011. The strategy goes on to report that SRO rooms are increasingly being lost to conversions and rent increases even though SRO hotels constitute a majority of Vancouver’s lowest income housing stock. As Robert Fiedler noted in 2006, “renters are disproportionately located in the City of Vancouver, which contains only 27.8% of the area’s total population, but 40.2% of all renters."  Furthermore, low vacancy rates in Vancouver’s market rental stock, a decreasing new supply of apartments in recent decades, and a widening gap of household incomes and housing prices are just a few challenges that must be overcome. By 2021, the City of Vancouver hopes to enable 5,000 additional social housing units, 11,000 new market rental-housing units, and 20,000 market ownership units.
The demographics of Vancouver reveal a multi-ethnic society. There remains a small population, less than 2%, of Aboriginal peoples, who according to archeological and historical records, have inhabited this region for more than 3,000 years.
From the time of Vancouver's first non-indigenous settlement in the second half of the 19th century, people from Britain and Ireland were the largest group of immigrants and, collectively, remain the largest ethnic grouping in Vancouver to this day. Chinese are by far the largest visible minority group, although ethnic Germans are the largest non-British group and, as census records show, only in the 21st Century were outnumbered by the Chinese for the first time. The city has one of the most diverse Chinese-speaking communities with several dialects of Chinese being represented. Vancouver contains the second-largest Chinatown in North America (after San Francisco's), and many multicultural neighbourhoods such as the Punjabi Market, Greektown, and Japantown. Commercial Drive, the core of the historic Little Italy, which is also the main Portuguese area, has become an alternative-culture focus, though traditional Italian and Portuguese and other establishments and residents remain in the area. Bilingual street signs can be seen in Chinatown and the Punjabi Market, and commercial signs in a wide array of languages can be seen all over the metropolitan area.
As of around 2009, 3% of residents of Vancouver state that they have at least some ancestry from the First Nations, and of that 3% over 50% state that they also have non-First Nations ancestry. A person with some First Nations ancestry may not necessarily identify as someone who is First Nations.
There is a small community of aboriginal people in Vancouver as well as in the surrounding metropolitan region, with the result that Vancouver constitutes the largest native community in the province, albeit an unincorporated one (i.e. not as a band government). There is an equally large or larger Métis contingent, with this being a mix of traditional "real" Métis from the Prairies and others whose mixed native/non-native ancestry qualifies them legally as Métis.
British and European origins
Much of the white population consists of persons whose origins go back to the British Isles and, until recently, British Columbians with British and Irish ancestry most likely came directly from the British Isles, rather than via Ontario or the Maritime Provinces. Until the 1960s, it was easier to purchase the Times of London and The Guardian in Vancouver than it was to find the Toronto Globe and Mail or Montreal Gazette. Other large and historically important European ethnic groups consist of Germans, Dutch, French (of both European and Canadian origin), Ukrainians, Scandinavians, Finns, Italians, Croats, Hungarians, Greeks, and lately numerous Romanians, Russians, Portuguese, Serbs and Poles. Non-visible minorities such as newly arrived Eastern Europeans and the new wave of Latin Americans are also a feature of the city's ethnic landscape. Prior to the Hong Kong influx of the 1980s, the largest non-British Isles ethnic group in the city was German, followed by Ukrainian and the Scandinavian ethnicities. Most of these earlier immigrant groups are fully assimilated or intermarried with other groups, although a new generation of East Europeans form a distinct linguistic and social community.
The first Chinese immigrants to British Columbia were men who came to "the Colonies of T'ang (China)," as they called British Columbia, for the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush of 1858 and a decade later to work on building the Canadian Pacific Railway. Because of various loopholes in the head tax and other anti-Chinese legislation, there was a steady influx of Chinese families from the late 19th century until the Second World War. Then in the 1980s, a huge influx of immigrants from Hong Kong came to Vancouver in anticipation of and during the transfer of sovereignty of that former British colony from the United Kingdom to China. This continued a tradition of immigration from around the world that had already established Vancouver as the second most multi-ethnic of Canada's cities (after Toronto) before the Hong Kong influx began.
Statistics Canada data shows that over 17% of the approximately 2.5 million people living in the metropolitan area are ethnic Chinese. Vancouver has one of the most diverse Chinese-speaking communities (from several regions of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Hainan, Malaysia/Singapore, etc.) made available to consumers in Vancouver and adjacent communities such as Richmond and Burnaby. The ethnic Chinese from Hong Kong who speak Cantonese make up the largest group within Vancouver's Chinese-speaking community. However, before the influx of Hong Kong immigrants, many earlier Chinese spoke Taishanese (台山話). The majority of these early Chinese immigrants came from the southern coastal province of Guangdong. In addition, the Chinese-speaking community has largely evolved and has residents who speak Mandarin, Hakka, Shanghainese, Taiwanese, and Teochiu who have arrived in Vancouver via Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Southeast Asia. There are also many Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong whose origin is from other areas of China such as Shanghai. Immigration from Taiwan increased in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and continues at a steady pace. Many Taiwanese are currently choosing to retire in Vancouver or raise their families in the city. The most recent Chinese immigrants to Vancouver are also those who come directly from Mainland China. Vancouver continues to receive immigration not only from Mainland China but also from Taiwan and Hong Kong, though to a lesser extent than in the 1990s. Southeast Asians (in particular Indo-Canadians) are one of Vancouver's largest Asian minorities; according to current statistics, Vancouver has Canada's second largest Indo-Canadian population after Toronto.
As of 2014 there are about 70,000 ethnic Koreans in the Vancouver area.
An H-Mart and several Korean restaurants are located on Robson Street. As of 2008 there are many Korean national students at the university and primary/secondary levels studying English. Other areas with Korean businesses include Kingsway in Vancouver, Burnaby, and New Westminster; other areas in Vancouver; North Road in Burnaby and Coquitlam, and areas of Port Coquitlam. As of 2011 Coquitlam is a popular area of settlement for Koreans.
Rimhak Ree (Yi Yimhak) came to Vancouver to study mathematics at the University of British Columbia in 1953, making him the first known ethnic Korean to live in the city. There were about 50 ethnic Koreans in Vancouver in the mid-1960s. The first Korean United Church congregation in the city opened in 1965. Numbers of Korean immigration to Canada increased due to more permissive immigration laws established in the 1960s as well as the home country's political conflict and poverty. There were 1,670 ethnic Koreans in Vancouver by 1975, making up 16% of all ethnic Koreans in Canada and a 3000% increase from the mid-1960s population. Korean immigration to Canada decreased after a more restrictive immigration law was enacted in 1978.
Christianity is a popular religion among ethnic Koreans. About 200 Korean churches are in the Vancouver area.
In 1986 Greater Vancouver had fewer than 5,000 ethnic Koreans. In 1991 the number had increased to 8,330. The number of ethnic Koreans in the Vancouver area increased by 69% in the period 1996 through 2001. The number of university students from Korea choosing to study in Vancouver had become most of the Korean students studying in Canada by the late 1990s. The first Korean grocery store in the North Road area opened in 2000. In 2001 28,850 ethnic Koreans live in Greater Vancouver, and this increased to 44,825 according to the 2006 census.
Canwest Global does a co-venture with the Canada Express, a Korean publication, to serve ethnic Koreans. It previously published a Korean edition of the Vancouver Sun but later stopped. Daniel Ahadi and Catherine A. Murray, authors of "Urban Mediascapes and Multicultural Flows: Assessing Vancouver’s Communication Infrastructure," wrote that the Korean edition of the Vancouver Sun was "error-fraught".
Other Asian ethnicities
- See also Indo-Canadians in Greater Vancouver
Other significant Asian ethnic groups in Vancouver are Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, Cambodian, Japanese, and Russians from the Russian Far East and Siberia. In Vancouver the term 'Asian' is normally used to refer only to East Asian and Southeast Asian peoples, while South Asians from the northern Indian subcontinent (mostly Punjabis) are usually referred to as Indo-Canadian or East Indians. Technically, though, the term 'Asian' may refer to either group, and also to the large Persian and other Middle Eastern populations as well as elements from Central Asia.
Tables of ethnicities (for census metropolitan area)
|Ethnic Origin by Regional Group||Population||Percent of 2,313,328*|
|Latin, Central and South American origins||29,125||1.3%|
|Middle Eastern origins||48,865||2.1%|
|South Asian origins||252,405||10.9%|
|East and Southeast Asian origins||644,555||27.9%|
|*Percentages total more than 100% due to multiple responses, e.g. German-East Indian, Norwegian-Irish-Polish|
|Ethnic Origin||Population||Percent of 2,097,960|
|British Isles, n.i.e.**||35,505||1.69%|
|North American Indian||43,190||2.06%|
|Ontarian||20||less than 0.01%|
|Other North American provincial or regional groups||150||0.01%|
|Bahamian||50||less than 0.01%|
|Bermudan||100||less than 0.01%|
|Carib||85||less than 0.01%|
|Kittitian/Nevisian||15||less than 0.01%|
|Martinican||10||less than 0.01%|
|Montserratan||10||less than 0.01%|
|St. Lucian||80||less than 0.01%|
|Aboriginal from Central/South America||830||0.04%|
|Belizean||60||less than 0.01%|
|Bolivian||90||less than 0.01%|
|Uruguayan||60||less than 0.01%|
|Latin, Central or South American, n.i.e.**||1,225||0.06%|
|Kosovar||85||less than 0.01%|
|misc. Slav (European)||760||0.04%|
|Akan||25||less than 0.01%|
|Amhara||65||less than 0.01%|
|Angolan||70||less than 0.01%|
|Ashanti||65||less than 0.01%|
|Burundian||90||less than 0.01%|
|Congolese (Zairian) people||75||less than 0.01%|
|Congolese, n.o.s.***||85||less than 0.01%|
|Dinka||25||less than 0.01%|
|East African people||610||0.03%|
|Gabonese||10||less than 0.01%|
|Gambian||15||less than 0.01%|
|Ghanaian||1,100||less than 0.01%|
|Guinean, n.o.s.***||95||less than 0.01%|
|Ibo||15||less than 0.01%|
|Ivoirian||15||less than 0.01%|
|Malagasay||35||less than 0.01%|
|Senegalese||20||less than 0.01%|
|Seychellois||20||less than 0.01%|
|Sudanese||705||less than 0.01%|
|Tigrian||50||less than 0.01%|
|Togolese||15||less than 0.01%|
|Yoruba||80||less than 0.01%|
|Zambian||40||less than 0.01%|
|Zulu||70||less than 0.01%|
|Kuwaiti||75||less than 0.01%|
|Libyan||25||less than 0.01%|
|Tunisian||70||less than 0.01%|
|Maghrebi origins, n.i.e.**||160||0.01%|
|Yemeni||75||less than 0.01%|
|West Asian, n.i.e.**||1,350||0.06%|
|Kashmiri||70||less than 0.01%|
|South Asian, n.i.e.**||6,495||0.31%|
|Hmong||75||less than 0.01%|
|East or Southeast Asian, n.i.e.**||1,170||0.06%|
|Asian, n.o.s.***||80||less than 0.01%|
|Pacific Islander, n.i.e.**||210||0.01%|
|*Percentages total more than 100% due to multiple responses, e.g. German-East Indian, Norwegian-Irish-Polish|
|**'not included elsewhere.'|
|***'not otherwise specified.'|
Vancouver has more interracial couples and less residential segregation than Canada's two largest cities, Toronto and Montreal. In total, 7.2% of married and common-law couples in Greater Vancouver are interracial; double the Canadian average of 3.2%, and higher than in Toronto (6.1%) and Montreal (3.5%).
|Visible minorities |
|Population group||Population (2011)||% of total population (2011)||Population (2006)||% of total population (2006)|
|Visible minority group||South Asian||35,140||6%||32,515||5.7%|
|Visible minority, n.i.e.||1,175||0.2%||990||0.2%|
|Multiple visible minorities||8,680||1.5%||7,320||1.3%|
|Total visible minority population||305,615||51.8%||291,740||51%|
Aboriginal peoples, who make up less than two percent of the city's population, are not considered a visible minority group by Statistics Canada.
|Aboriginal peoples |
|Aboriginal group||First Nations||7,865||1.3%||7,510||1.3%|
|Multiple Aboriginal identities||100||0%||140||0%|
|Total Aboriginal population||11,945||2%||11,145||1.9%|
Vancouver, like the rest of British Columbia, has a low rate of church attendance compared with the rest of the continent and the majority of the population does not practice religion. It has a significant Buddhist population, mostly adherents from China.
Vancouver religious profile from 2011 Census 48.8% no religious affiliation, including agnostic, atheist, Humanist, and "no religion" 36.2% Christian 5.7% Buddhist 2.8% Sikh 2.2% Muslim 1.8% Jewish 1.4% Hindu 0.9% other religions, including Pagan, Wicca, Unity, New Thought,
Pantheist, Scientology, Rastafarian, New Age, Gnostic, Satanist
0.1% Aboriginal spirituality
- Baker, Don. "Koreans in Vancouver: A Short History." Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, 2008, Vol.19(2), pp.155-180
- "Vancouver Public Library" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-02-06.
- Data taken from: "British Columbia Regional District and Municipal Census Populations" (PDF). BC Stats.; "British Columbia Municipal and Regional District 1996 Census Results". BC Stats.;"British Columbia Municipal and Regional District 2001 Census Results". BC Stats.;Davis, Chuck (1997). The Greater Vancouver Book: An Urban Encyclopedia. Surrey, BC: Linkman Press. p. 780. ISBN 978-1-896846-00-2.
- Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness (February 2012). Results of the 2011 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count (Report).
- Fiedler, Rob; Schuurman, Hyndman (8 May 2006). "Hidden homelessness: An indicator-based approach for examining the geographies of recent immigrants at-risk of homelessness in Greater Vancouver". Cities. 3 23: 11. doi:10.1016/j.cities.2006.03.004.
- Eberle Planning and Research (April 2001). Homelessness - Causes and Effects: A Profile, Policy Review and Analysis of Homelessness in British Columbia (PDF) (Report).
- Fiedler, Robert (2006). Geographies of Immigrants at Risk for Homelessness in Greater Vancouver (M.A. thesis). Simon Fraser University. p. 108.
- Smith, Heather; Ley (25 June 2008). "Even in Canada? The Multiscalar Construction and Experience of Concentrated Immigrant Poverty in Gateway Cities". Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 3 98: 27. doi:10.1080/00045600802104509.
- Moore, Eric; Pacey (25 June 2008). "Chaning Income Inequality and Immigration in Canada, 1980-1995". Canadian Public Policy. 1 29: 19. JSTOR 3552487.
- City of Vancouver (June 2011). Vancouver's Housing and Homeless Strategy 2012-2021: A Home for Everyone (Report).
- Bloemraad, Irene. "Diversity and Elected Officials in the City of Vancouver" (Chapter 2). In: Andrew, Caroline, John Biles, Myer Siemiatycki, and Erin Tolley (editors). Electing a Diverse Canada: The Representation of Immigrants, Minorities, and Women. UBC Press, July 1, 2009. ISBN 0774858583, 9780774858588. Start p. 46. CITED: p. 68.
- Chinese Genealogy
- "Metro’s 70,000 ethnic Koreans: Most turn to fervent, conservative Christianity." Vancouver Sun. March 2, 2014. Retrieved on December 24, 2014.
- Baker p. 162-163 (PDF 9-10/26).
- Baker p. 163 (PDF 10/26).
- Baker, Don and Larry DeVries. "Introduction" (Archive). In: DeVries, Larry, Don Baker, and Dan Overmyer (editors). Asian Religions in British Columbia (Asian Religions and Society Series). University of British Columbia Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-7748-1662-5. p. 5.
- "Ethnic mapping 6: Koreans, Poles, Scots, Ukrainians and more." Vancouver Sun. October 20, 2011. Retrieved on December 24, 2014.
- Baker p. 159 (PDF 6/26).
- Baker p. 160 (PDF 7/26).
- Baker p. 160-161 (PDF 7-8/26).
- Baker p. 162 (PDF 9/26).
- Ahadi, Daniel and Catherine A. Murray (Simon Fraser University). "Urban Mediascapes and Multicultural Flows: Assessing Vancouver’s Communication Infrastructure" (Archive). Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol 34 (2009) p. 587-611. CITED: p. 596.
- Profile of Ethnic Origin and Visible Minorities for Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2006 Census[dead link]
- 2001 Vancouver Community Profile from 2001 Census at Statistics Canada
- , Community Profiles from the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada - Census Subdivision
- , National Household Survey (NHS) Profile, 2011
- , Aboriginal Population Profile from the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada - Census Subdivision
- , Community Profiles from the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada - Census Subdivision
- Clark, Warren. "Patterns of Religious Attendance".
- Babych, Art. "Attendance Drops in Church". Western Catholic Reporter.
- 2011 Census
- Gumpp, Ruth. "Ethnicity and Assimilation: German Postwar Immigrants in Vancouver, 1945-1970" (M.A. thesis). University of British Columbia, 1989.
- Walhouse, Freda. 1961. The Influence of Minority Ethnic Groups on the Culture Geography of Vancouver (M.A. thesis), University of British Columbia.