Pretty well all the sailing related forum sections here will be of use to you.. do yourself a favour and avoid off-topic!
It's very early days for you.. check into the various co-ops in the area, do a lot of dock walking and try to talk to people you see down there.. we're almost always ready for an eager beginner's questions.
Wheel vs tiller, Full keel vs fin keel, heavy vs light, sloop vs ketch, big vs small ....the debates are never ending - even (or esp.) among long time sailors. Your eventual budget will have a big effect on what you will be able to consider. In the meantime you can try to get enough experience to develop your own preferences.
There are various yacht clubs that hold casual racing programs, the Vancouver Rowing Club probably has the most relaxed program, but all clubs sponsor races of one type or another, and boats are often looking for crew - reliability and good attitude will be more important than experience in many cases.. and before you pull the 'I don't race' card, know that this way you might get experience on a number of different boats and sizes for little or no cost. You'll learn the mechanics of sailing very quickly and learning how to get the most out of the conditions under sail will only do you good when you're cruising.
This is a great area.. winter sailing/racing is challenging, and in summer there are few spots in the world better for scenic, sheltered waters. Fascinating inlets, a good park system, and the ability to offer everything from daysailing and short harbour hopping to treks outside Vancouver Island, to Haida Gwai, or Alaska and beyond.