British Columbia

Search for Metro Vancouver's best neighbourhood: Championship semifinals

There may not be two modern neighbourhoods in Metro Vancouver more steeped in history than Mount Pleasant and Fort Langley, two of the final four in the Search for Metro Vancouver's Best Neighbourhood. 

It's Mt. Pleasant vs. Fort Langley in a match to determine one of the two finalists

(Maggie MacPherson/CBC News)

There may not be two modern areas in Metro Vancouver more steeped in history than Mount Pleasant and Fort Langley, two of the final four in the Search for Metro Vancouver's Best Neighbourhood

One calls itself "the birthplace of British Columbia," home to the Hudson's Bay Company trading fort and the first population centre in the region for European settlers 170 years ago. 

The other, Vancouver's first "suburban neighbourhood," a streetcar-oriented community that became a hub for both industry and working-class families.

Both have also maintained their essential character for generations — but the similarities mostly end there.   

And only one can have a chance to be crowned the region's best neighbourhood. 

(Justin McElroy/CBC News)

As the rest of the region has changed, Fort Langley has stayed much the same: a place connected to its agricultural and railway past, a place where heritage is celebrated and four-storey buildings are considered tall, a place that often seems like an oasis from the hustle of a big city — by design.

"When you're here, you don't feel like you're in the Lower Mainland, you feel like you're somewhere a little bit remote," said Quinn Schneider, general manager of Trading Post Brewery's Fort Langley location. 

The agricultural barrier between the neighbourhood and the rest of the Township of Langley's urban core has allowed it to maintain a small-town feel, the tall trees of Glover Road providing an inviting canopy at all times of the year.

"You get beauty. You get history," said Jasmine Marjanovic, owner of Cranberries Naturally.

"I think it's the people that really believe in Fort Langley, that love Fort Langley, that keep it Fort Langley. They really try and not change it too much, and I think that's part of the beauty and attraction."

(Justin McElroy/CBC News)

Meanwhile, Mt. Pleasant has always seen change. 

"It's situated in the middle of Vancouver, and physically straddles the east and west sides of the city. So it's the best of both worlds," said Christine Hagemoen, a writer and historical researcher who lives in the neighbourhood. 

From waves of immigrants who have settled in affordable housing, to the different businesses that have occupied the buildings around Main and Kingsway over time, to the resurgence of the neighbourhood's brewery-heavy past, Mt. Pleasant has always been somewhat of a microcosm of Vancouver writ large. 

"I feel it has such a rich history, a very complex history and different histories for different people. You know you can talk to so many different people in this area and you get different stories," said Ajay Puri, a community organizer who has lived in Mt. Pleasant since 1996. 

Which also means that the last decade has been gripped by discussions of affordability. Puri moved southeast to Joyce-Collingwood last month, after he and his partner needed a larger place after having a child.

"It's the stiff price to pay for being number one. You get the attention from people all over, and rents go up," he said.

The balance between heritage and development, Metro Vancouver's past and its future lies over both Mt. Pleasant and Fort Langley. 

Voting is open until midnight on Tuesday, August 18, with the winner advancing to the championship round on August 21. 

(CBC Graphics)

Tale of the tape

Mount Pleasant:

  • Average Age: 38.
  • Average household size: 1.8.
  • Renter households: 61 per cent
  • Average total household income (approx.): $81,000
  • Visible minorities as a percentage of neighbourhood population: 32 per cent
  • Road to the Sweet Sixteen: First Round Bye, Defeated Riley Park 77-23%, Strathcona 72-28%, Grandview-Woodland 62-38%, Olympic Village 72-28% and West End 51-49% 

Fort Langley:

  • Average age: 44
  • Average household size: 2.6.
  • Renter households: 7 per cent
  • Average total household income: $142,000
  • Visible minorities as a percentage of neighbourhood population: 29%
  • Road to the Semifinals: First Round ByeDefeated Walnut Grove 60-40%Willoughby-Willowbrook 91-9%Murrayville 90-10 %Cloverdale 66-34% and Crescent Beach 52-48%