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Water’s Edge: Vancouver’s oceanfront properties by the numbers

Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun, May 6, 2016

Vancouver is known for its stunning coastline, accentuated by lush parks, funky water-view restaurants, and luxurious homes.

But how well do you know the waterfront? On what portion of it can you throw a frisbee or buy a home? How much of the water’s edge is dominated by cranes or terminals?

In an effort to define our oceanfront, The Sun asked for help from Landcor Data Corp., a New Westminster-based firm that specializes in analyzing real estate data.

Landcor matched B.C. Assessment data — which shows the address, size, value and other information about all properties in the province — with a map of the shoreline between Lions Bay and the Peace Arch border crossing.

Then, using a national shoreline data set, Landcor zoomed in on a 200-metre-wide ribbon of land running along the coast to eliminate all properties not directly on the water (such as houses tucked behind another lot and therefore not truly on the ocean). Landcor also excluded all properties that were separated from the coast by a road or railway, with the exception of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway in White Rock.

The result was a spreadsheet of 9,518 properties stretching from the rugged, steep cliffs of Lions Bay to the outstretched shores in South Surrey — the route paddled by Sun reporter and kayak enthusiast Larry Pynn, who takes readers on a journey along Metro’s oceanfront in an eight-part series that starts today.

But don’t let the number of dots on the map fool you.

While there are relatively few waterfront industries and businesses, their properties are so big they hog 47 per cent of the water’s edge — or 12,500 acres of the 27,000 acres lining the coast.

Parks and other green spaces account for 45 per cent of the oceanfront, meaning all those homes and stores with the gorgeous views are crammed onto less than eight per cent of the shoreline. In order to streamline the four categories of property types on the water, the “parks” category includes playing fields, beaches, wildlife reserves, green belts, recreational facilities, dikes and two golf courses.)

The bar graph below shows what percentage of land in each city is industry, parks, homes or commercial. Click on any colour within the bar to see the property type within the city you have chosen on the map.

While homes cover just five per cent of the land, they represent 55 per cent of the value along our $30 billion waterfront. While all real estate seems expensive in Metro Vancouver, homes on the coast are off the charts — and collectively add up to more than $16 billion in the most recent B.C. Assessment figures.

But our green spaces on the water also come with impressive price tags, such as Vancouver’s Pacific Spirit Park, valued at $2 billion. And so do businesses with a view, such as Vancouver International Airport at $1.9 billion.

Again, you can click on the bars below to see the location of the property types on the map. Hover over the dots for information on addresses and B.C. Assessment value.

So, how much money do you need for a nice home on the ocean? A lot.

There are 630 waterfront properties valued over $5 million. And there’s a whopping 128 with an assessment of more than $10 million, nearly all of them in Vancouver and West Vancouver. Of the 62 residences in Vancouver that will set you back more than $10 million, 49 of them are on posh Point Grey Road.

Zoom in and hover over the dots below to discover the cost, size and number of bedrooms in Metro’s priciest view homes.

Keep checking this space for the next eight days as we bring you more interactive maps and graphics with fun facts about Metro’s waterfront, as reporter Pynn continues his epic journey past our beaches, wharfs and condo towers.