Our History

While our agency has taken several different forms over the years, and has had several different names, we have always maintained a firm commitment to providing the highest quality of Information and Referral Services. As we prepare for an exciting future, we look proudly on our history, and strive to continue the legacy that has been built over the last half century.

bc211 began in 1953 under the name Community Information Service. In 1958 we published the first edition of the Directory of Health, Welfare and Recreation Services in Metropolitan Vancouver, which later became the Red Book. Over the next 30 years, we continued to expand our information and referral services, and to publish yearly directories. In 1985 we began operating under the name Information Services Vancouver, with offices at the Heritage Hall in Vancouver where we stayed for 25 years.

We began offering specialized help lines in the late 80’s with the Victim’s Information Line and the Alcohol and Drug TRYLine. Over the next 20 years we continued to grow, and added the Problem Gambling Help Line, Youth Against Violence Line and Shelter and Street Help Line to the services we offer.

bc211 has been instrumental in advancing information and referral standards in BC, in Canada (through Inform Canada), and in North America (through the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems).

bc211 was the first Canadian I&R agency to be accredited through the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS). Our accreditation was reaffirmed in 2008. In addition to the agency accreditation, our Information and Referral Specialist and Resources and Publications Specialists must become certified through AIRS.

On April 10 2010, the 211 British Columbia Services Society, operating under the name bc211, was officially launched. Since then, bc211 has been operating 211 services in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Squamish-Lillooet Regional Districts.

In 2014, 211 service expanded to the Sunshine Coast Regional District.

2017 was a milestone year for bc211. With support from all the United Ways in BC, bc211 expanded its online services province-wide. The expansion included a new website that is more user- and mobile-friendly, as well as the ability to connect with an information and referral specialist via live web chat.