British Columbia’s biggest city extends a big welcome to retirees with pets. Vancouver is a popular retirement destination, thanks to its thriving and culturally diverse city life, relatively mild Pacific Coast winters, natural setting, and excellent public programs. The city is also home to pet enthusiasts who embrace activities ranging from canine sports and cat shows to reptile rescue and rabbit agility. Seniors who are looking for outdoor activities, social events, and pet-friendly homes have lots of options in Vancouver.
Vancouver retirement communities that welcome pets
There are about 20 retirement communities in greater Vancouver that are open to residents with pets. On the city’s west side, Crofton Manor provides independent and assisted living as well as memory care on a 6-acre campus with elegantly landscaped gardens. In the central Victoria-Fraserview neighborhood, Shannon Oaks offers all-inclusive independent living with a putting green, space for gardening, and a short walk to many shops, restaurants, and attractions. Across the Lions Gate Bridge, Amica in West Vancouver sits close to Klahanie Park, Park Royal Shopping Centre, and several seaside parks and beaches.
Plenty of off-leash parks and places to swim
Vancouver’s parks department welcomes leashed dogs in all city parks and has designated off-leash areas at dozens of parks. Off-leash access may vary by the time of day and the season; residents can check the city’s parks page before taking Fido out for a free-range romp. City beaches are not open to dogs in general, but there are designated off-leash locations where your dog can swim:
– Charleson Park’s waterfall pond (not the duck pond) is open to off-leash dogs, except from June through September, when they must be leashed from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
– Crab Park at Portside gives dogs beach access on the park’s east side, away from the playground, during posted hours.
– Fraser River Park welcomes off-leash dogs 24/7 on its west side, and all day on the east side from October through April.
– Hadden Park hosts off-leash dogs on its sandy beach year-round during posted hours, which vary by season.
Other off-leash parks with places for dogs to swim are Trout Lake Park, New Brighton Park, Spanish Banks Beach, and Sunset Beach Park. The city also sponsors classes and special events for pet owners, including dog training and fish aquarium setup.
Clubs for rabbit, reptile, and cat owners
Seniors with cats, birds, and other pets can find plenty of like-minded people around town. The Vancouver Rabbit Agility Club keeps things hopping with several events each year. The club welcomes rabbit owners who want to give their pets exercise and social time. Cat Fanciers of British Columbia boasts an international membership that puts on at least 2 shows each year in the Vancouver area. And the BC Reptile Club welcomes hundreds of lizard, turtle, and snake owners and experts to its annual Expo events.
Big events featuring all kinds of pets
Other special events include Pet-A-Palooza, a yearly one-day event in the Yaletown neighborhood that brings together thousands of dogs, owners, vets and groomers for races, care tips, fur clips, and even canine weddings. The annual PetLover Show offers demonstrations and mini-lectures for people who want to learn more about dog training, exotic birds, bunnies, cats, and—yes—how to housetrain a llama.
No word on whether any retirement communities around Vancouver will let seniors bring their llamas, but for owners of smaller pets, there are plenty of options for fun, friendship, and pet-friendly homes.