The VREB region called the West Shore, is comprised of 5 VREB Districts: District of Highlands, City of Langford, City of Colwood, District of Metchosin and District of Sooke. See the separate section for details on Sooke.
Many people choose to live in the Highlands because of its rural character and natural beauty. One of the main goals of the Highlands is to protect the elements of the region’s ecosystems. 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 so that they are not highly visible from the road or viewpoints.
There are no stores available but residents can easily slip in to Langford as needed. As expected, there is a Volunteer Fire Department as well as many other locally organized community activities and groups.
Although there are a few municipal parks with playgrounds and swimming, the majority of the area’s parks are large natural areas. Mount Work Regional Park does boasts swimming holes, fishing spots and hilly terrain as well as the highest peak on the Saanich Peninsula but is mostly undisturbed wild areas. Lone Tree Regional Park has a two kilometer trail that winds uphill, leading hikers to fabulous views of the Highlands, Victoria and the Olympic Mountains. Wildflowers are very impressive in the spring. The largest park in the area is the extensive Gowlland Tod Provincial Park which stretches along the edge of Saanich Inlet. It can only be investigated using the challenging hiking trails.
Langford is a growing municipality. It is split by the Island Highway. The part to the south has been developed for many years but most of the development in the north section is relatively new with the large shopping area and surrounding homes still increasing. There is no shortage of shopping opportunities throughout the area. There is also the large mall Westshore Shopping Centre on the south side of the highway, alongside Veteran’s Memorial Parkway which links Langford from north to south. Langford also includes the vast Bear Mountain development to the north which features golf courses, shopping, a hotel and spa and residential housing.
Langford has attracted large retail and wholesale stores, light industrial companies, and dozens of small businesses throughout the municipality. It is known for encouraging development and trying to make it easy to build a business there quickly and without unnecessary roadblocks.
The area has a large number of lakes and parks, which offer a variety of recreational pursuits. Local lakes include Langford Lake, Glen Lake and Florence Lake. The nearby popular Goldstream Park has many hiking trails and also has a provincial campground and is famous for its annual salmon spawn. Hiking through amazing wildflowers to spectacular views at the top is possible at Mill Hill and Mount Wells Regional Parks.
Langford is close to many facilities in nearby Colwood and View Royal so benefits from sharing many of these such as the Galloping Goose Trail, West Shore Recreation Centre, Victoria General Hospital and Royal Roads University.
Colwood has supported housing in “Belmont Park” and other services for the Canadian Armed Forces, specifically the Navy, for many years and has grown quietly until recent developments such as the vast Royal Bay housing development have started. Fortunately some of the new housing developments have resulted in creating new parks such as Havenwood and Latoria Creek Parks. The central area is also now set to develop with multi-level residential units planned in several areas. There is a now a small central shopping area but nearby Langford has provided more than enough shopping opportunities.
Colwood offers a variety of recreational pursuits. As well as being a shareholder in the extensive West Shore Parks & Recreation Centre, there are the Royal Colwood and Olympic View golf courses for the golf enthusiast. Historic Ford Rodd Hill offers looks at vestiges of a bygone era in a waterfront setting complete with a lighthouse. The Coast Collective Art Centre offers opportunities to those interested in art. Royal Roads University not only offers the courses as expected from a post-secondary institution but has an historic Hatley Castle, extensive cultivated Hatley Gardens plus vast areas of native vegetation and the grounds go right down to the Esquimalt Lagoon waterfront. The road along Esquimalt Lagoon offers a great opportunity for birdwatchers as well as spectacular views over to the Olympic Mountains. The multi-use Galloping Goose Regional Trail, formerly a railway line, meanders through urban, rural and wilderness scenery on its spectacular journey from Victoria to Sooke and makes it easy to get to Colwood on foot or by bike from throughout the Capital Region.
Metchosin is a rural community. The Council has vigorously supported the natural areas. It has assisted with a number of BioBlitz events to emphasize the fragility of the many native organisms that occur in the area and they also support regular talks and walks involved with the natural environment.
Many of the properties are larger and sheep farming is popular as well as growing vegetables and fruits. Again the Council supports agriculture in a positive manner. Nice to see young people involved with such enterprises as a vegetable box business, including eggs and meat, arising out of the farming. There is a weekly Farm Market next to the municipal hall on Sundays from May till October. It includes fruits, vegetables, eggs, baked goods and locally crafted items. There are also many home-based artists in the municipality. They have seasonal shows of their work in the community hall and some have their homes open to show their work throughout the year.
Metchosin is the setting for Pearson College in an impressive natural setting which attracts students from all over the world. There are a few stores available but residents can easily slip in to Langford or Colwood as needed. Many farms offer their produce at road-side stands.
Horseback riding, nature trails and parks are common in the district. They also offer a number of golf courses. Matheson Lake is popular for swimming and hiking. Witty's Lagoon has an oceanfront area popular for birdwatching, hiking and relaxing on the beach. Pedder Bay is well known for its fishing. The multi-use Galloping Goose which goes from Victoria to Sooke crosses through Metchosin and allows hikers, horse-back riders and bicycle riders a unique opportunity to see areas not open to the public otherwise.
The following districts make up the West Shore region. The district of the Highlands is sub-divided into 3 neighbourhoods. Langford has 17, Colwood has 12 and Metchosin has 8. Look at the VREB website to see more details on the neighbourhoods.
Visit the web site of the District of Highlands
Visit the web site of the City of Langford
Visit the web site of the City of Colwood
Visit the web site of the District of Metchosin