From Railtown to the False Creek Flats: Vancouver’s Top 5 Industrial Neighbourhoods

In recent years, Vancouver has been showcased as one of the world’s top cities, hosting world events that encouraged tourists from across the globe, starting with Expo ‘86 to the 2010 Winter Olympics. According to Statistics Canada, the population of Metro Vancouver has increased by 6.5 percent from 2011-16. Housing in Vancouver has been on the rise over the last decade, and gentrification has begun to trickle into areas that were once solely industrial neighbourhoods. Historically, Vancouver’s geographic location made it a transportation hub connecting Western Canada to Europe and Asia, leading to a booming manufacturing industry with the Canadian Pacific Railway as the center. Yaletown and False Creek are prime examples of the transformations from industrial neighbourhoods to urban centres. There is great potential in Metro Vancouver – here are the cities top 5 industrial neighbourhoods.



Location: Alexander Street to the rail yards. Heatly to Columbia.

Past: Completed in 1887, this area was an important industrial link to the Burrard Inlet, allowing goods to be transported by ship and rail. This was a thriving area for industries including foundries, metalwork and machine shops alongside the fishing and lumber industries. Businesses that occupied the building spaces in the surrounding area were prominent industries, such as the B.C. Iron Works, Vancouver Foundry, Boiler and Machine Works, and the B.C. Sugar refinery.

Current: The businesses in the area today are occupied some of the city’s most innovative entrepreneurs, including Herschel, Railtown Brewing, Vancouver Urban Winery, The Settlement Building – popular event rentals.


Location: Bounded by Prior Street, Clark Drive, Great Northern Way and Main Street.

Past: Originally a tidal flat and a terminus for several significant freshwater streams. Once filled with shellfish and young salmonids, it became a fishing ground for Coast Salish communities. But Industrial development caused these streams to become filled with debris and industrial waste.

Current: The False Creek Flats are about to go through a big change, with plans currently submitted and under review with the city. The area had its first glimpse at the future of the flats at the city’s public open house on January 25th. There’s an emphasis on new creative jobs in the tech and arts sectors, and a bit of affordable housing, while supporting and preserving industrial land.


Location: Broadway to Burrard Inlet. Clark Drive to Nanaimo Street.

Past: Early development started in the Grandview-Woodland area stemming from a small stream running into the Burrard Inlet forested by cedar trees. It was the location of the Canadian Pacific Railway when it was built in the 1880’s, and sawmill owners using the forests of the area. Construction started to boom in 1906, with the railway influencing industrial development along the waterfront.

Current: Today Commercial Drive, known locally as ‘The Drive’ is the most popular part of Grandview-Woodland, packed with trendy eateries, coffee shops, and residential housing. With an anticipated population growth of about 10,000 people over the next three decades, plans for the future of Grandview-Woodland include three condo towers at Venables Street and Commercial Drive developed by the Kettle Society and Boffo properties of around 200 condos and 30 supportive housing units for those with mental health issues.


Location: St. Patricks Ave to Queensbury Ave. Esplanade to E 4th Ave

History: In 1863, the first lumber plant on the Burrard Inlet, opened and initiated an influx of residents to the North Shore. Located on the waterfront, North Vancouver was poised for growth; in 1865, Sewell Prescott Moody purchased the Burrard Inlet Mills, and established Moodyville as the most progressive settlement on the Burrard Inlet. This logging hub grew quickly, and soon came schools, a post office, and even a hotel. Eventually, financial collapses occurred in the 1890’s and 1907 – pushing the young city into bankruptcy.

Current: Desirable for its proximity to the water, Moodyville is now a residential area with plans for developmental growth. Several areas of Moodyville have development and rezoning applications underway.


Location: Between Boundary Road and North Road

History: In 1887, the Canadian Pacific Railway was extended into Vancouver from Port Moody. Due to an increase in traffic between New Westminster and Vancouver, a tram line connecting the two centres through Burnaby was built. The growth of Burnaby was influenced by the expanding urban centres of Vancouver and New Westminster, and first served as a rural agricultural area.

Current: Today, Burnaby has shifted from logging and agriculture to service, commercial and industrial sectors. It’s shifted from rural, to suburban, to urban centre in recent years with population growth of 10 percent from 2006-11, and is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 2.1 percent.

To find out more about the local areas, see our article on Interesting Streets in Vancouver.