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Abbotsford is situated in the Fraser Valley and is the fifth largest city by population in British Columbia. Abbotsford is also the largest city in the province by land area, covering 375.55 square kilometres. The city offers spectacular views of Mount Washington to the southeast, a vista of Coast Mountains to the north, and acres of beautiful farmland. Abbotsford was founded in response to the expanding Gold Rush in 1858 and grew larger through the amalgamation of the District of Sumas in 1972 and the District of Matsqui in 1995. Despite its size, Abbotsford maintains its small town feel as it continues to grow and develop.
Abbotsford offers over 35 walking trails to take in the natural beauty of the great outdoors. Take your dog for a walk through the majestic trees of the 4.8 km Downes Bowl Trail or bird watch in the wetlands of Willband Creek Trail. For indoor activities, Abbotsford has many recreation centres complete with wave pools and skating rinks. A new addition to the city is the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, which is home to the NHL Calgary Flames' AHL affiliate team - aptly named the Abbotsford Heat. For concert enthusiasts, the centre also draws many talented big-named artists and bands. If you’re looking for a local cultural experience, there are many art installations throughout the city to enjoy, and three municipal libraries. There is also great shopping to be found at Sevenoaks Mall or the newly built High Street Mall - the largest mall in the region. Most importantly, the city boasts state-of-the-art technologies and advanced medical services at the recently built Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre.
Abbotsford is accessible via three major traffic arteries: The Trans Canada Highway #1 located to the south of the city, the Abbotsford-Mission Highway with access to Mission, and the Fraser Highway with access to Aldergrove. Many major roads such as Old Yale Road and South Fraser Way allow traffic to move easily throughout the city. Public transport is minimal, but the city buses, operated by the Central Fraser Valley Transit System, offer routes for getting around the city. The city's inactive rail infrastructure allows the opportunity for future development. Matching the pace of the municipality’s expanding growth, Abbotsford International Airport is one of the fastest growing airports in Canada.
Abbotsford is home to 46 public elementary, middle and secondary schools, as well as many private schools. The successful French-Immersion program is available at the primary level at Margaret Stenersen, Sandy Hill, Centennial Park and Clearbrook, and continues on to Grade 12 at W.J. Mouat Secondary School. Many secondary schools in the area excel in academics and athletics, including Bateman Secondary, Yale Secondary, Abbotsford Senior Secondary and Rick Hansen. Pupils also have the opportunity to obtain a post-secondary education within the city at the University of the Fraser Valley.
Abbotsford has a population of 141,000 people and has the third highest percentage of visible minorities in the province. 2005 statistics list the median family income at $58,121 annually. The property tax rates for 2013 are $3.12 per $1000 of Assessed Taxable Value. The uniform water rate is $1.15 per cubic meter and the unmetered sewer user pays $257 annually. The weekly compostable/recyclable collection with bi-weekly garbage pick-up is $220 annually. Abbotsford also boasts strong job creation, with 62% of its residents able to work within the city.
One of the most famous events in Abbotsford, and what helped to put the city on the map, is the annual Abbotsford International Air Show. It is the country's largest air show, and it thrills residents and visitors over three days every summer with its aerobatic feats. Abbotsford is also known as the Berry Capital of the World, and the city hosts the annual BerryBeat Festival in Historic Downtown Abbotsford with many activities for the whole family. The city also hosts the Agrifair and Rodeo, a popular event complete with barrel racing by day and dancing by night at the Fat Pig Saloon. Every year is capped off with the annual Christmas tree lighting in Historic Downtown Abbotsford. Abbotsford offers all the conveniences of a big city while still maintaining at the heart of it its small town agricultural roots. With the city's continued development and growth, Abbotsford can be a great place to raise a family or start a business, and all within a picturesque landscape. For those seeking to explore nature, support junior hockey or shop with friends, the city has it all.