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Greater Victoria BC and Surrounding Areas

About Greater Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Greater Victoria is comprised of 13 municipalities, all of varying size and each one very unique from the other. Located at the southern end of Vancouver Island, is Victoria, the Capital city of British Columbia, and most well know of all the municipalities. The rich history has been well preserved which makes Victoria a very desirable tourism destination. Walk the famous Government street and explore all that Victoria has to offer. Venture outside Victoria into one of the other 12 municipalities, each one offering a new adventure.

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Greater Victoria BC and Surrounding Areas scenery

Greater Victoria, British Columbia Real Estate by Area

 

Local Resources and Information

Greater Victoria Attractions

Central Saanich

The district of Central Saanich is a power blend of a community with a rural atmosphere and urban conveniences which makes for a very desirable lifestyle. The district boasts of an extremely attractive waterfront and waterview properties as well as a pastoral atmosphere from agricultural zoning that is highly sought after.

Located on the Saanich Peninsula, there is quick access to the city, the Victoria International airport and the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. Brentwood Bay and Saanichton are its two main communities. Central Saanich started as a largely agricultural community focused on hobby farms in the past decades but has slowly progressed in the residential, commercial and industrial development stage within the more recent years.

Some rural properties here may rely on wells and septic fields but most of the housing is serviced with municipal water and sewer. But generally, one should investigate the supply of water and its quality when buying a country property here. Garbage pickup should be arranged with a private company while the Capital Regional District (CRD) also provides regular recyclable pickup as well as Emergency 911 services. Central Saanich has a volunteer Fire Department and its own police service.

The district’s best tourist attraction is the famous Butchart Gardens which spans 50 acres, offering the most dazzling display of flowers, bulbs, shrubs and trees all year round.

The old-fashioned agricultural Saanich Fair has been celebrated in this district for the past 143 years! And it’s a fun day of many equine competitions, artwork contests and traditional components of a regular fair such as hair-rising rides and game stalls.

Overall, Central Saanich is a district that carefully strives to preserve its history while embracing progress in a relaxed attitude.

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Cobble Hill

Cobble Hill is a largely agricultural land famous for Cobble Hill Mountain itself which gave the village its name.

It is known for its numerous hiking trails and parks namely the Quarry Regional Wilderness Park where parts of the movie based on the Louisa May Alcott novel Little Women was filmed and Cherry Point Nature Observation Park. Both perfect locations for family bonding and outdoor exploration.

The village offers a diverse landscape of freshwater lakes and saltwater beaches as well as forest and farmlands.

Cobble Hill also has a vibrant arts community with several galleries that feature local painters, sculptors, potters, and totem pole carvers.

It has recently become famous for its vineyards that produce quality wines and cider.

Cobble Hill gives off a relaxed country atmosphere perfect for a laidback lifestyle for those who want to escape the city for good, with reasonable real estate prices to boost. And an ideal retreat for summer vacation.

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Colwood

Located to the north of Victoria and to the south of Langford, Colwood is home to a population of roughly 16,000 people. There are 800 businesses here, as well as several quality schools, 3 golf courses, and 52 parks. 3 of the Greater Victoria Area’s national historic sites (Fort Rodd Hill, Hatley Castle and Fisgard Lighthouse) are situated in Colwood, allowing visitors and residents alike to enjoy some of the area’s history in a family-friendly environment. For those who don’t drive, there are regular buses running from the heart of Colwood to downtown Victoria, or to other suburban areas. BC Transit has identified the Island Highway as a potential corridor for a future rapid transit network connecting Colwood to Victoria’s Inner Harbour. The City of Colwood is also committed to environmental sustainability, as indicated by the Solar Colwood program, and other such innovative measures.

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Esquimalt

Esquimalt’s municipal hall is located at 1229 Esquimalt Road. The Township of Esquimalt is one of 13 townships within the Greater Victoria area, with a population of just over 17,000 people spread over 7 kilometers. It is surrounded by Victoria to the east, the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the south, Esquimalt Harbour and Royal Roads to the west, and the Gorge Waterway to the north. Esquimalt is home to the Maritime Forces Pacific of the Royal Canadian Navy, with the base being first established by the British Royal Navy in 1849. Among the points of interest in Esquimalt are the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum, the HMC Dockyard, the Gorge Waterway Discovery Centre, several historic walkways, the Archie Browning Sports Center, the Esquimalt Recreation Center, Macauley Point Park and many great family-friendly parks and natural places.

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Highlands

Stretching along the eastern side of the Saanich Inlet, from just north of Goldstream Provincial Park to MacKenzie Bight, the District of the Highlands is mostly a rural residential community nestled in lush forest and rolling hills. Those living in this district tend to share the same values, regarding the preservation of their environment and rural lifestyle, and are active within their community. The total population for the District of the Highlands is just over 2,300. There are scattered businesses operating out of the Highlands, but you’ll find the bulk of the shopping in the nearby community of Langford, where the children and teens living in the Highlands also attend school. 1/3 of the area covered by the Highlands is comprised of protected parkland, including Eagles Lake Municipal Park, Gowlland Tod Provincial Park, and Lone Tree Hill Regional Park, among many others.

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Langford

Northwest of Victoria, in the foothills of Mount Finlayson, is the city of Langford. This is the urban core of the West Shore, with a population of over 29,000 people. Sporting a median income of just over $73k, Langford is a hub for both young and established professionals because of its affordable new homes and business opportunities. To become the commercial center of the West Shore, Langford has attracted many large retail and wholesale stores, industrial companies and small businesses, drawing people to live and work here, thus making Langford the fastest growing municipality in the CRD. Langford’s 41.46 square kilometers contains 3 lakes, Goldstream Provincial Park, and the majority of Thetis Lake, Mount Wells and Mill Hill Regional Parks, for those who love to explore nature. There are plenty of shopping opportunities available, as well as sports fields, an extensive bike trail system, and a number of recreation centers and family attractions (like the All Fun Recreation Park and Langford Lanes).

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Malahat

Malahat is an unincorporated region north of Victoria. A rugged mountainous community famous for the scenic but sometimes treacherous stretch of highway known as the Malahat Drive. The Malahat Drive is loved for its scenic beauty, climbing steeply to a summit of 356 meters, it offers a spectacular view. But it is also hated for its history of horrific crashes. Over the past few years, much effort has been exerted into the development of making this route safer. Kilometres of barriers have been added in the steep and windy sections of the road to prevent any more accidents.

Malahat residents generally visit Mill Bay or Langford for their shopping needs as the region does not have any commercial centre.

What Malahat offers is a quiet lifestyle surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty with most of its properties perched like eagle’s aeries on the steep slopes. Perfect locations to enjoy the spectacular views of the Saanich inlet.

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Metchosin

A large coastal area with just over 5000 people, the District of Metchosin is a stable rural municipality bounded by Colwood, Langford, Sooke and the San Juan de Fuca electoral district.

Most Metchosianites are operators of small farms. Independent settlers in the 1850s established a lot of farms here after finding the land to be quite productive. Among the very first farms is the Bilston Farm on the shores of Witty’s Lagoon.

Metchosin’s local government has imposed a minimum lot size of one to two acre to keep the area’s rural lifestyle. And this is part of what makes this district stable today. You can find mostly single family dwellings on larger properties here.

With its 9 neighborhoods, Metchosin is a pastoral rural community with small farms and secluded homes. Many homes here rely on wells while some neighborhoods are served by a community water system. Because of its sparse population, Metchosin is a close-knit community rich in help your neighbor tradition. Public transportation is limited and the Fire Department is volunteer-based. Private garbage collection should be arranged but a blue box recycling service is also available for all residents.

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Mill Bay

Mill Bay About 41 km from Victoria and just at the northern end of the Malahat Drive, you will find the community of Mill Bay. Mill Bay is a quiet village founded in the 1860s with lumber and milling as its primary industries.

This village is also known for its ferry ride to Brentwood Bay on the Saanich Peninsula as an alternative to the steep highway route which is the Malahat Drive. A short ferry ride from Mill Bay will allow you to bypass the sometimes treacherous Malahat Drive and gets you to Brentwood Bay easily.

Brentwood College, a well-known private co-ed school, is also located in Mill Bay. This college is well-regarded for equipping its students with readiness for post-secondary education.

Mill Bay Centre is one of Mill Bay’s shopping malls that serves as a regional shopping haven for the south end of Cowichan Regional District. Other two shopping malls can be found in this district’s commercial area.

For beach lovers, a visit to Old Mill Park, Botswain Bank or Mill Bay Beach will surely be an enjoyable experience. And for an awesome time in picnicking, swimming and nature watching, you can also check out Bamberton Provincial Park just south of the Mill Bay ferry terminal.

Real estate prices in Mill Bay are very reasonable and the residential feel here is ideal for retired people, infrequent commuters and tourists on vacation.

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North Saanich

North Saanich, because of its location on the Saanich peninsula, has the luxury of being surrounded on three sides by the ocean.  This ocean shoreline runs a full 20km around North Saanich.  Like Saanich proper, North Saanich has a temperate climate that sees very little snow during winter time allowing residents to pursue outdoor activities all year round. With relatively easy access to amenities and the city of Victoria just next door there are plentiful employment opportunities as well as options for post secondary education.  Being home to the Victoria International Airport as well as the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal makes North Saanich a popular destination – for tourists and island residents alike.

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Oak Bay

Oak Bay lies south east of and adjacent to the city of Victoria and is a seaside community. Gnarly Oak trees dominate the city’s landscape, thus it is named as such.

Oak Bay is a city with British heritage and is considered to be “more English than England.”

Oak Bay has its own police force and fire department. This city is fully serviced with water and sewer, garbage collection, as well as a recycling program for the whole municipality.

Oak Bay Sea Rescue Society, a Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit, is found here. The University of Victoria is also located here between the border of Oak Bay and the neighboring municipality of Saanich.

There are three recreation sites here in Oak Bay and they all offer a variety of fun activities and programs for all ages. Namely:

Monterey, Henderson, Oak Bay recreation centers. This city also has three golf courses, and the Victoria Golf course being storied as having the Golf Course Ghost which is often seen beside the seventh fairway, or gliding across the road in front of motorists!

One of Oak Bay’s outstanding events is the Oak Bay Tea Party held since 1963 at Willows Park. It’s a fundraising event for several local charities and complete with the trappings of grand celebration that includes a parade, an air show, a bathtub race, entertainment and lots of food!

A city reputed to have a quiet, genteel character with its seaside charm and British origins, Oak Bay is a lovely place to call home.

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Saanich

A mix of Suburban and rural neighbourhoods, Saanich is the largest municipality in Greater Victoria. Presently, Saanich is comprised of numerous neighbourhoods and varying housing styles of apartments, condos, and multifamily housing to single family residences of all sizes, styles and values. Saanich has upscale neighbourhoods as well as modest suburban family ones. Those small postwar houses from the older neighborhoods are slowly being redeveloped also.

Saanich is located just to the north of Victoria with 18 kms of oceanfront and several freshwater lakes making for an abundance of waterfront and waterview properties.

Saanich is made up of 35 distinct neighborhoods with the largest including: East and West Saanich, Royal Oak, Broadmead, Prospect, Elk and Beaver Lakes, Tillicum, Gorge, Cordova Bay, Mt. Doug, Gordon Head

There’s a mix of solidly suburban areas and distinctly rural ones among these neighborhoods.

Saanich has several recreational facilities, a large number of parks and some college campuses.

This district is serviced by its own police and fire departments and the municipality offers biweekly garbage pickup while the Capital Regional District takes care of the recyclable pickup.

 

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Shawnigan Lake

Shawnigan Lake is a haven of recreational activities. Located in British Columbia’s Vancouver Island and borders the communities of Cobbie Hill and Mill Bay.
Residents enjoy waterskiing, wakeboarding, wakeskating, canoeing, kayaking and swimming. Population doubles during the summer months with the lake and village being a popular vacation spot for its residents who mostly have second homes here.
Shawnigan Lake also has a small shopping and service centre with a few small stores and plenty of summer cabins along the lake, which is the main attraction of this district.
With easy access and reasonable distance to Victoria, Shawnigan Lake is the perfect summer retreat for people who want to either live here or spend their summer months enjoying the recreational amenities the area has to offer.

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Sidney

Serving as the commercial hub of the peninsula and a gateway to the US, Sidney, or also known as Sidney-by-the-Sea, is a bustling town located at the northeastern coast of the Saanich Peninsula just 26 km north from Victoria.

Sidney used to be a small village serving local farms. The influx of people brought about by an air force base and training station in World War II, where the Victoria International Airport now stood, helped established Sidney. Now, the tourism industry is one of major employers of this town together with a growing technology sector. Enjoying a robust economy, Sidney’s pedestrian friendly streets and scenic shorelines made this town a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.

Sidney’s close proximity to Victoria, which has a myriad of amenities to offer, makes it more desirable for tourists to vacation here and for retirees to call home.

Sidney is also known for being Canada’s first Booktown boasting of a dozen unique bookstores within walking distance of each other. There are also shops that feature works by local artists and artisan.

During summer, 200 vendors converge to sell their wares such as gifts, fresh local produce, hand-made crafts and tasty food in a street market held each Thursday evening June through August. This charming Sidney tradition takes place at the Beacon Avenue, where they close it for vehicle traffic to make room for the displays.

Sidney has become a top choice for retirees with its quaint atmosphere and moderate climate. This resulted to a boom in a large number of housing such as condos and townhomes. The Salish Sea is one of the most popular features of this town where people can enjoy the sunrise. Because of its wonderful oceanfront views, Sidney has developed lots of properties with waterfront views for its residents and tourists to enjoy. As well as numerous desirable homes right in the oceanfront taking full advantage of the picturesque landscape.

Policing in Sidney is taken care of by the RCMP and the Fire Department by both career and volunteer firefighters. Water and sewer services are provided all throughout the neighborhoods. A recycling program is provided by the Capital Regional District (CRD) through a blue box program while the town’s garbage collection is through a private company.

A laidback atmosphere on a seaside location with a cool Mediterranean climate, Sidney is a beautiful place for people to visit and/or to call home.

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Victoria

As the capital of British Columbia, Victoria is also the southernmost major city in western Canada.  Settlement by the British beginning around 1843, makes it one of the oldest cities in all of the Pacific Northwest.  Some claims to fame are that Victoria is home to the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the 2nd oldest Chinatown in North America (San Francisco has the oldest in case you were wondering).  Victoria also has no shortage of famous landmarks, two of which include the Legislative buildings as well as the Empress Hotel.

Victoria BC is called The Garden City and enjoys the status of being on the top 20 list of world cities for quality of life.  A temperate and virtually snow-free year round climate, makes Victoria a popular tourist and retirement destination.

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View Royal

As part of Greater Victoria, View Royal, with its 11,000 residents, includes over 1,700 acres (700 hectares) of parkland.  Starting from the one o’clock position, moving clockwise, View Royal is surrounded by the districts of Saanich (West) Esquimalt, Colwood, Langford and the Highlands.  For as long as anything has been documented, View Royal has been the home of the Coast Salish people.  By the 1850s, European settlement moved in and started buying up the land.  The Island Investment company, marketing some of the 80 acres it purchased as having royal views, is how the name of the town came to be.  The town’s incorporation, however, didn’t officially take place until 1988.

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