Useful Facts

Geography

Vancouver
Latitude: 49° 13' North 
Longitude: 123° 06' West
Altitude: 2 m (7 ft) above sea level
Population: Based on the 2006 Canadian Census, the official population of the city of Vancouver was estimated at 578,041. Metro Vancouver's estimated total population in 2006 was 2.1 million, over half of the province of British Columbia’s (BC’s) population of 4.1 million.

Whistler
Latitude: 50° 07' North
Longitude: 122° 58' West
Altitude: Whistler Village is 668 m (2,190 ft) above sea level
Population: Based on the 2006 Canadian Census, the official population of Whistler is 9,248.

Time Zone/Daylight Saving Time
BC is located in the Pacific Time zone, eight hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. Daylight saving time is observed from April to October.

Weather/Climate
Winters on the BC coast are temperate; if snow falls it doesn't settle for long. The BC interior and the rest of Canada experience freezing temperatures and lasting snow from November to March.

The key to remaining comfortable is to wear layers of clothes that can be easily removed. Always consult the weather forecast before venturing outdoors for extended periods of time.

  • Average winter temperatures range from minus 8º to 3º C (18º to 37º F)
  • Average snowfall in the valley is 430.5 cm
  • Average snowfall in alpine areas is 914 cm (30 ft)

For current climate and weather conditions by province and territory, visit the Environment Canada website

Currency
The currency used in Canada is the Canadian dollar.

Canadian bank notes are:

  • $5
  • $10
  • $20
  • $50
  • $100

Canadian coins are:

  • One cent (penny)
  • Five cents (nickel)
  • Ten cents (dime)
  • 25 cents (quarter)
  • One dollar (loonie)
  • Two dollar (toonie)

Main currency exchanges are located in Vancouver International Airport, banks and hotels.


Sales Tax
Most goods and services in Canada and BC are subject to five per cent federal tax and seven per cent provincial tax. These taxes may be in addition to the price of goods and services.


Electricity
Outlets and voltage (110 volts) are the same as in the United States. Small appliances — such as hair dryers, irons and shavers — can be used in Canada. Adaptors are required for electrical appliances for visitors from other countries. The frequency of the electrical current in Canada is 60 Hz.


CDMA/GSM (Mobile Phone) Coverage
CDMA phones are currently the most common cellular technology in Canada. CDMA providers include Bell Mobility and Solo Mobile (a subsidiary of Bell). A CDMA phone will have excellent coverage throughout Vancouver, including all venues.

GSM/GPRS is another mobile phone technology used worldwide; Canada's service providers have roaming agreements with GSM/GPRS companies all over the world. Although it will cost more to use a GSM/GPRS phone, it will work almost anywhere around the globe. The main physical difference between CDMA and GSM/GPRS is the use of a SIM card for GSM devices. If your phone is on a GSM network, check with your service provider to make sure there is a roaming agreement with a Canadian provider.


10-Digit Dialing
There are three telephone area codes for the province of British Columbia: 250, 604 and 778. Dialing in BC requires 10-digit phone numbers, so ensure you include the correct area code in front of the local number you are dialing.


Measurement
Canada uses the metric system. Here are some examples of useful conversions:

  • 1 Canadian gallon = 4.5 litres
  • 1 American gallon = 3.8 litres
  • 1 mile = 1.6 kilometres
  • 1 kilometre = 0.6 miles
  • 30°C = 86°F
  • 20°C = 68°F
  • 0°C = 32°F
  • minus10°C = 14°F


Official Languages
One of Canada’s greatest cultural assets is that the country boasts two official languages: French and English. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) will reflect Canada’s linguistic duality by providing services in both languages in accordance with federal government policy for national events. With just under seven million francophones across Canada, French communities are widespread in BC. From Prince George to Maillardville — the province’s francophone hub — over 60,000 francophones promote their culture and spirit all over the province.


Shopping (hours and days of operation)
Hours and days of operation are determined by each municipality, although most establishments in Metro Vancouver are open seven days a week.


Credit Cards and Travellers Cheques
Most major credit cards are accepted, but visitors are advised to check with the vendor before making a purchase. Cash machines are available in convenient locations throughout Metro Vancouver.


Banking
Banking hours in Canada are 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday. Some locations and branches have extended hours and operate on weekends. To cash cheques or for other banking services, visitors are advised to confirm operating hours with the various institutions. In major centres, main branches of Canadian banks are also equipped to exchange foreign currency. Additionally, several major European and foreign banks have offices in Vancouver. Most banks have automatic teller machines, which can be accessed 24 hours a day using bank or credit cards from major international banking networks such as Cirrus, Plus and Interac.


Smoke-Free Games
In addition to VANOC’s smoking restrictions at venues, which comply with the IOC’s “smoke-free Games” requirement, smoking is also prohibited in indoor and some outdoor environments within the Host Communities. These include all indoor public places (restaurants, bars, arenas) as well as within three metres of entrances to buildings. Some cities and communities, such as Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler, will have in place further restrictions, including no smoking on restaurant/bar patios and within six metres of entrances. Smoking at transit shelters or in a bus, taxi or limousine is also prohibited. For more information, visit the Vancouver Coastal Health website.


Personal Safety
Canada is a very safe place to visit, but as with any country, being alert is key to ensuring your safety.

Lock your doors and windows, keep everything in your car out of sight when parked and never leave valuables unattended, especially passports or wallets.

For more tips on personal safety, visit the Government of Canada’s SafeCanada website.


Potable Water
Canadian water is considered safe to drink straight from the tap so be sure to fill up your re-usable water bottle and stay hydrated throughout the day. It is especially important to drink water in colder temperatures as there is a tendency not to feel thirsty in in the cold, which can leave you at risk of dehydration.


Alcohol
The legal drinking age in most Canadian provinces and territories is 19, the exceptions being Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, where it is 18. Photo ID is required to purchase alcoholic beverages or enter bars, restaurants or nightclubs where alcohol is served.


Driving
A US driver’s licence is valid in Canada. However, if you are visiting from any other country, you must apply for an International Driving Permit from an automobile association in your country of residence before you leave, to allow you to drive and rent a car in Canada.


Embassies and Consulates
Canada hosts numerous embassies, consulates and high commissions that can provide assistance if you need help with documentation (for example, replacing a lost passport or extending a visa) or dealing with legal, medical or emergency matters.

To search a directory of consular offices across Canada by country of origin, visit the Foreign Affairs Canada website.


Emergencies
For emergencies in both Whistler and Vancouver, dial 911.

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