The latest area code available to B.C. residents is gradually being assigned to phone numbers throughout the province.

The area code was introduced on June 1, 2013 and had been reserved for the province since 2001.

Unlike 604, which is just for the Vancouver area, 236 is an “overlay” area code, which means it can be given to any customer in the province. The area code 778 is also an overlay number. 

Local calling areas have not changed, and long distance charges are based on geography, not area code. The new code was introduced in response to a high demand for phone numbers in B.C.

Connor Parnall is a customer who’s recently been assigned the 236 area code. 

“People usually ask if I’m from out of town,” he said. Parnall says he doesn’t mind having the new area code but says it does make his number stand out since the rest of his colleagues all have 604 or 778 numbers.

But area codes have become more than just the digits you dial before a telephone number. Rapper Drake’s now-ubiquitous nickname for Toronto—“The Six”—is believed to be in part derived from the city’s 416 and 647 area codes. And in some cities, having a certain area code can be a status symbol and source of pride. In New York, having the 212 area code can mean that you’ve lived in Manhattan for a long time but having a 646 number means you’re relatively new.

The value placed on having a certain area code was even spoofed on an episode of Seinfeld. Elaine is forced to change her number and then rejected by a prospective love interest when she reveals she has the new 646 area code.

Liz Sauvé with Telus says the company made the area code available to its customers right away and that some people have even been enthusiastic about getting it.

“One of my colleagues was one of the first ones to come down and change her phone to get that 236 number. She wanted be the first one in her group of friends to have it,” said Sauvé.

The next area code the Canadian Numbering Administrator has set aside for B.C. is 672.