Douglas Todd: The most ‘Asian’ city outside Asia

posted on April 1, 2014

By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun | Link to Article 

By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun | Link to Article 

What is the significance of Metro Vancouver becoming the most “Asian” city outside Asia? Forty-three per cent of Metro Vancouver residents have an Asian heritage, which is a much higher proportion than any other major city outside the continent of Asia.

Based on Statistic Canada reports, the number of those with Asian roots in Metro Vancouver will continue to grow at a faster rate than the non-Asian population.

Around the globe, the only major cities outside Asia that come close to Metro Vancouver for their portion of residents with Asian backgrounds are San Francisco (33 per cent Asian), London, England (21 per cent), Metro Toronto (35 per cent), Calgary (23 per cent) and Sydney, Australia (19 per cent).

Observers from Asian and non-Asian backgrounds predict that as a result of Metro Vancouver’s unique demographics, residents should expect more changes, adjustments that will create opportunities and richness, as well as tension and challenges.

These cultural analysts foresee an accelerating rise of Asian-oriented restaurants, retail outlets, artistic events, religions, community service organizations, schools, neighbourhoods, family-reunification programs, international business partnerships, corporate customs and language-specific newspapers and TV stations.

The loosely associated Asian cohort in Metro Vancouver consists of three main large groups — particularly ethnic Chinese, Indians and Filipinos — followed by smaller populations of people rooted in South Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Vietnam, Uganda, Singapore, Afghanistan, Lebanon and elsewhere.

The other large cities of the Pacific Northwest do not come close to Metro Vancouver for the proportion of people with backgrounds in Asia.

In Victoria, just 11 per cent of the population has Asian heritage. In Seattle, the proportion is 13 per cent and in Portland it’s eight per cent.

Statistics Canada reports show the percentage of those with Asian heritages will continue to grow rapidly across Metro Vancouver, a region that has doubled in population in just 30 years.

One Statistics Canada report, released in February, shows Metro was the third fastest-growing city behind Toronto and Montreal in Canada between 2001 and 2011.

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