Why Vancouver Is Canada’s Richest City

Vancouver is No 1. in Canada in net worth. Why? Because we're an entrepreneurial bunch.

Every wonder why Vancouver is No 1. in Canada in net worth?

Vancouver is No 1. in Canada in net worth. Why? Because we’re an entrepreneurial bunch.

A couple of months ago I sat with a sales consultant from Toronto who was trying to divine the BC business mind. What, she wanted to know, do people actually do out here. They don’t make things and don’t seem to have service businesses of any size. There are no dominant industries like oil in Alberta or manufacturing in Toronto. Good question, I replied. Because we were shut out of the traditional industries that exist in Ontario, we had to find alternatives. We have resources, of course, but today our main industry is entrepreneurial thinking. Trade and real estate are big, and there are those new knowledge business sectors like technology, film, Internet, and New Media. Many people run some kind of service or retail operation or have some kind of job, and do other things on the side. Now there’s some proof that this portfolio approach seems to work. A survey by Environics Analytics shows that Vancouver is now the Canadian city with the highest individual net worth, which measures someone’s assets minus debts. Apparently we’ve leaped over perennial leader Calgary. It’s not so much that we gained, but that everybody else lost in the recession that began last year. Net worth dropped 6.2 per cent for Canadians as a whole in 2008. Calgary residents’ wealth dropped 12.3 percent, while Vancouver residents were able to hang on to much of their wealth. Why was that? Primarily because, much of Calgary residents’ money was in stocks, bonds and mutual funds, while Vancouver’s was in real estate which held relatively steady in 2008. And earlier this year, it appears that Vancouverites put their discretionary income into the very things that everybody is now avoiding. While Alberta and Ontario residents worked to pay off debt or stuck their money in safe GICs, we started shifting our money into depressed sectors or investment areas. That tells me that Vancouverites might just as a rule be more flexible, creative and adventurous. They live in the richest and most expensive city in Canada and so have become adept at future think. They scan the horizon constantly for opportunities and then jump rapidly into sectors that hold the most upside. What about you? How do you think we make a living here?