About the Greater Victoria area
Welcome to our wonderful city! Victoria is not only the Capital of the Province of British Columbia, but also thought by many as a year-round tourism attraction and one of the best places to live in all of North America. We are situated just 2 hours north east by ferry from Vancouver and the mainland.
According to the 2001 census, about 325,000 people make Greater Victoria their home. The population has increased from 148,000 in 1961 and is predicted to reach nearly 400,000 by 2020. Although the largest city on Vancouver Island, it is still small enough to easily get around. With its temperate climate, unsurpassed natural beauty and ocean and mountain vistas, it’s not hard to see why it is nicknamed “The Garden City”. Once you are here you will find yourself falling in love with its charming ambience and wild beauty. You may want to spend an afternoon taking a stroll through its colourful downtown district, alive with street artists, native art and tea shops, or admire fine heritage architecture and visit the lively harbour.
Alternatively within the city limits are numerous gateways to explore the great outdoors - mountains, ocean and forest are at your doorstep. Whatever your style or interest, there is something here for everyone.
Please read on for regional information and related links.
THE GREATER VICTORIA AREA -- DIVERSITY AND CHOICE
If you are in the market for property, the Greater Victoria area offers a wide and diverse range of properties.
The Capital Regional District is made up of 12 municipalities and four "unincorporated" areas, with a total population of over 320,000. Each of these areas has its own by-laws, rules and regulations affecting home-buyers and home-owners.
The municipalities are:
Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood, Langford, Metchosin, Highlands, Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sidney
The "unincorporated" areas are:
Langford Electoral Area, Sooke, Salt Spring Island, The Outer Gulf Islands.
Victoria, the Provincial Capital, with a population of 75,000 is the core of the Capital Regional District and boasts some of the oldest residential neighbourhoods in the province. The City of Victoria is nine square miles in size.
As the capital city of the province, the City of Victoria is home to the provincial Legislature and approximately 11,000 government workers.
Governments at all levels provide a major employment base in Victoria with 18 of the largest employers coming from the public sector.
Eatons is the largest private sector employer in the city.
Saanich East and Saanich West (population 102,000) is a sprawling area composed of a number of distinct neighbourhoods.
The eastern side of Saanich is dominated by the University of Victoria which is very much a part of the local life of the community. The landscape of Saanich is unique for its ecological diversity and leisure potential. There are 170 municipal parks, three regional parks and a cycling network route to see and explore. Saanich has more parks per capita than any other municipality in B.C. There are several excellent golf courses in Saanich: Blenkinsop Valley, Cedar Hill, Cordova Bay and Prospect Lake golf courses.
Saanich's distinct neighbourhoods include the following:
GORDON HEAD, a solidly upper middle class family area with several shopping malls, restaurants and movie theatres within a short driving distance.
HIGH QUADRA overlooking Blenkinsop Valley.
BROADMEAD with imaginative West Coast architecture.
CORDOVA BAY a beautiful neighbourhood perched along the seaside; a mixture of cottages, small farms, sizeable family homes and new subdivisions.
OAK BAY is a distinct municipality located to the east of Victoria. Incorporated in 1906, it now has a population of over 18,000.
From its miles of scenic coastline with breathtaking foreshore vistas to its luxury apartments and stately mansions, Oak Bay is one of the most desirable residential areas in Greater Victoria. Architecture ranges from the late 19th century style of such pre-eminent architects as Francis Rattenbury and Samuel McLure to the contemporary West Coast style of today's fine architects.
Property owners take pride in maintaining their impeccably manicured laws and fine landscaping. Canopies of trees enhance the attractiveness of the area and are passionately protected.
Oak Bay is home to two world class golf courses, the Uplands Golf Club and Victoria Golf Club, as well as the Oak Bay Marina and the prestigious Royal Victoria Yacht Club. There are three recreation centres in the municipality and its main shopping areas, Oak Bay Avenue and Estevan, maintain a village-like atmosphere.
Oak Bay shares the University of Victoria and Camosun College with the neighbouring municipality of Saanich.
Esquimalt is the municipality immediately to the west of Victoria. With a population of over 16,000 it offers a variety of interesting contrasts in lifestyles with an abundance of parks, foreshore vistas and a marina.
Esquimalt has a strong mix of high quality residential properties, some excellent waterfront properties and a very active business community including a light industrial district. It has a well-established community spirit and all of its services were well developed many years ago. Some of Esquimalt's most attractive residential areas are Saxe Point, Rockheights and Parklands.
Esquimalt has a full range of recreational facilities including arena, curling rink, indoor swimming pool, recreation centre and the top-ranked Gorge Vale Golf Club.
Facing the western approaches from the sea, it is a very pleasant and sun-filled location. Esquimalt is home to the Department of National Defence. Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt employs around 4,000 military and 3,000 civilian personnel, making it a significant contributor to Victoria's economy.
Between Victoria and Esquimalt is Vic West, currently being revitalized with the Songhees development. This area is developing rapidly as it is a prime piece of waterfront property commanding an unparalleled view of the Inner Harbour and downtown Victoria.
The town of View Royal was incorporated in 1988 and encompasses 1,007 hectares (2,488 acres) of land and 253 hectares (626 acres) of foreshore and land covered by water.
With a population of just under 6,000, View Royal lies at the doorstep of Greater Victoria's urban core and adjacent to the growing municipalities of Esquimalt and Saanich.
View Royal is served by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Waste disposal is done on a private basis and areas within the township are protected by a tree-cutting bylaw.
View Royal has been divided into seven distinct Precincts based on such factors as topography, major transportation corridors, natural environment and the age of housing stock. They are Craigflower, Harbour, Helmcken, Hospital, Burnside, Atkins and Wilfert. Each Precinct can also be described and identified according to its population, the number of dwelling units by type and ownership, the amount of land available for new development and the presence of commercial and retail land uses.
Incorporated in 1985, the City of Colwood has a population of over 14,000. The city is divided into residential pockets such as Triangle Mountain, Colwood Creek, Colwood Lake Estates, Wishart and Lagoon areas. There are business centres at Colwood Corners and Hatley Park.
The area offers a variety of recreational pursuits. The Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre is considered to be one of the most complete sport complexes in the province. For the golf enthusiast, there highly rated courses, the Royal Colwood golf course and the Olympic View golf course and the nine hole Juan de Fuca course. The area offers a nature reserve as well as a beach for sun tanning, swimming, wind surfing, sailing or just walking. Views of downtown and views of the American coast over the Strait of Juan de Fuca are also enjoyed. In addition, there are a number of smaller parks.
The community is served by septic tanks and sewage disposal fields as well as by some private sewage systems. A sanitary sewer system is expected to be in operation in the Colwood Corners Area by 1997.
Garbage collection is done on a private basis and the area is policed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Fire Department is a mix of regular and volunteer members. The area is well served by public transit. There are no hospital facilities in the municipality. There is a private medical clinic available in Colwood Corners for emergency assistance, but most medical problems are taken care of at the Victoria General Hospital located on Helmcken Road which is very close by.
Incorporated in 1992, the District of Langford is divided into distinct areas such as Glen Lake, Happy Valley, Florence Lake, Langford proper, Thetis Heights and the Goldstream Area. The population of Langford is projected to be over 18,000 by the year 2001. There is a business and commercial area running from the Goldstream/Millstream intersection to Jacklin Road and extending to Can West Mall on Kelly Road.
The area has a large number of lakes and parks, offering a variety of recreational pursuits. The larger lakes include Thetis Lake, Langford Lake, Glen Lake and Florence Lake. The most popular park is Goldstream Park which also has a provincial campground.
The Langford area is large, extending from West Saanich to View Royal, along Colwood, Metchosin, Sooke and northwards including portions of the Malahat Highway.
Most of the community is served by a municipal water system, however there are large parts that are serviced by private wells. Septic tanks and septic fields are the norm though some areas are served by private sewage systems. Garbage pickup is done on a private basis. There is bus service throughout the area. Langford is policed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Incorporated in 1984 as a result of a perceived need to preserve the rural lifestyle, the District of Metchosin has a population of over 4,500. Metchosin is mainly a rural community with large parcels of land. It includes areas such as Albert Head, William Head, Rocky Point, Happy Valley and the Kangaroo Road areas.
Horseback riding, nature trails and parks are common in the district. Matheson Lake is popular for swimming and hiking. Witty's Lagoon is an oceanfront area for a variety of sports and for relaxation. There are two golf courses, the Metchosin Golf and Country Club and Green Acres, and plans for another. Pedder Bay is well known for its fishing and Metchosin is the setting for Pearson College. As the area is mainly rural, there are a variety of farm related organizations and horse and riding clubs.
Parts of the community are served by a community water system, however there are large parts that are serviced by private wells. Septic tanks and septic fields are the norm. There are also some private sewage systems. Garbage collection is done on a private basis. There is limited bus service throughout the area, both for public transport and for schools. Metchosin falls under the jurisdiction of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and has a volunteer Fire Department.
Highlands is the newest of all the municipalities in the Capital Regional District to be incorporated. Many people choose to live in the Highlands because of its rural character and natural beauty. Residents are encouraged to build their homes with the least environmental impact by minimizing vegetation removal, using materials that blend in with the landscape and positioning homes that are not highly visible from the road or viewpoints.
Mount Work Regional Park boasts swimming holes, fishing spots and hilly terrain as well as the highest peak on the Saanich Peninsula. Lone Tree Regional Park has a two kilometre trail that winds uphill, leading hikers to fabulous views of the Highlands, Victoria and the Olympic Mountains.
During a normal winter, the Highlands experiences cooler temperatures and approximately 35% more rainfall than Victoria. The precipitation is essential to recharge well water resources and maintain ecosystems during severe drought conditions that occur during the summer and fall months.
The Highlands is home to many interesting plants and ecosystems such as wetlands, woodlands, wildflowers and old growth trees. The roads are scenic, narrow and winding.
Located west of Victoria, Sooke is one of the few unincorporated areas left in Greater Victoria. It falls under the jurisdiction of the Capital Regional District for municipal services and zoning regulations. With an estimated population of over 12,000, Sooke is divided into distinct areas known as Sooke proper, East Sooke, Broomhill, Saseenos, Sooke River, Whiffin Spit and "the West Coast Road." There is a growing business section in the downtown core, good schools, sports facilities and an excellent museum.
Sooke offers a variety of recreational activities reflecting its natural surroundings. Excellent fishing, boating, hunting, hiking and horseback riding are available. The area contains an abundance of lakes, parks and nature trails including the Galloping Goose linear park, East Sooke Park, Sooke Pot Holes, the well-known Sooke Harbour, the world-renowned West Coast Trail and Botanical Beach at Port Renfrew, and the West Coast Trail's new extension of the Juan de Fuca marine park to Jordan River. Sooke also offers one of the world's best surfing beaches. The biggest event of the year is "All Sooke Days." Golfers can enjoy the Phillips John Memorial Golf Club.
Sooke is a popular tourist area boasting the world famous "Sooke Harbor House" and a large number of private bed and breakfast facilities and country lodges tucked away in the woods and usually on the waterfront. It also has a local government wharf and private marinas
Sooke falls under the jurisdiction of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The community also has a well-trained ambulance service and a volunteer fire department. Parts of the community are served by a municipal water system, however there are large areas that are served by private wells and community water systems. Septic tanks and septic fields are the norm though some areas are serviced by private sewage system. Garbage collection is done on a private basis.
Central Saanich has a population of close to 14,000 people. The dominant age groups are in the 25-44 range (adult baby boomers) and the 55 and up range. Agriculture is the most extensive land use in the community with pockets of housing ranging from hobby farms to townhouses dispersed throughout. The necessary services are provided through two core commercial areas in Brentwood Bay and Saanichton, supported nicely by the Keating X Road industrial/commercial area.
Because of its attractive rural lifestyle, Central Saanich experienced considerable demands for development during the 1980s. The overriding philosophy of the community is to retain the current rural character, agricultural land base and as much as possible provide for slow, long-term growth where it will have the least impact on the agricultural lands and the environment. Central Saanich has the Sunshine Hills golf course for golfing enthusiasts.
Central Saanich has its own police force and Fire Department. Garbage collection is done on a private basis.
With a population of around 10,000 people, the overriding philosophy of North Saanich residents is to retain the rural qualities of the area with an acute awareness of the protection of the environment.
Agricultural, residential and institutional uses are the primary land uses in North Saanich with only minor commercial or industrial uses (with the exception of the airport). The dominant agricultural/residential uses result in the highly valued rural atmosphere of North Saanich living. Almost all the housing is classified as single detached homes.
Because of the community's preference for retaining larger lot sizes and the rural nature of residential neighbourhoods, water supply is provided by wells or the municipal water system. North Saanich is under the jurisdiction of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Waste disposal is done on a private basis.
"Sidney by the Sea" as it is affectionately known, currently has a population of just over 10,000 people. Because of its climate, natural amenities and friendly community character, Sidney's fastest growing age group is in the 65 and over category. Sidney has established trend-setting laws requiring the provision of adaptable housing for persons with disabilities. Sidney is under the jurisdiction of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
In an effort to maintain population balance, the municipality has approved single family developments that cater to younger people and attempt to make housing more affordable. Sidney has extensive waterfront walkways, parks, restaurants and marinas. The Panorama Leisure Centre provides indoor tennis, ice arena and pool and will soon offer squash and racquet courts. The Glen Meadows Golf and Country Club and the Ardmore golf course serve golf enthusiasts.
There is daily ferry service to Anacortes, Washington, U.S.A. Sidney is less than two kilometres away from the Victoria International Airport, three kilometres from the B.C. Ferry Terminal to Vancouver and only 25 minutes away from downtown Victoria.
Salt Spring Island is home to a small community with a rural lifestyle. It is the largest (72 square miles) and the most populous (over 9,000) of the Canadian southern Gulf Islands. Salt Spring is located in the Strait of Georgia between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island. It is served by three excellent B.C. ferries, two from Vancouver Island and one from the mainland. There are also scheduled air flights and several marinas to service the boating public.
Salt Spring's mild climate, slow pace, maritime landscapes and island isolation attracts many, including artists and craftspeople from all over Canada. The work of these talented people can be found at local galleries, studios and at the popular summer "Artcraft" show. West Coast and wildlife art is abundant along with pottery, sculpture, weaving, fabric art and jewellery. Many artists welcome visitors at their studios. Also famous is Salt Spring lamb, not only for distinctively flavoured meat and for its fleece, but also for its inspiration of local artists and crafters.
Salt Spring's mild climate makes for year-round activities such as hiking, fishing, cycling and horseback riding. The island has a number of salt and fresh water beaches and the Blackburn Meadows nine hole golf course. There are six parks (two with campgrounds); an outdoor swimming pool; public tennis courts; five-pin bowling alley and a number of high quality playing fields.
The village of Ganges is the focus of island living and boasts a variety of restaurants and unique shops. Accommodations are available on a short or long-term basis and range from bed and breakfast establishments in island homes to resorts, hotels, inns and motels; from luxurious and isolated to affordable and within walking distance.
An active population of seniors and a variety of services make living on Salt Spring an attractive choice for senior citizens and retirees.
The island is policed by the RCMP and governed by the Capital Regional District. Garbage collection is provided by a private company. Health facilities include a 50 bed hospital with a helicopter pad and an extended care centre.
The Islands Trust is responsible for land-use planning. Most properties range in size from one-half acre to 20 acres. Most roads are paved, but, with the exception of the main roads to the ferry terminals, tend to be narrow and winding.
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Source: The Victoria Real Estate Board
Regional Chamber of Commerce Directory