Greater Victoria “?” Highlands

.tags The most recently incorporated municipality (1993) in the Capital Regional District, Highlands is a stunningly beautiful rural residential community. Located northwest of Victoria, it is sparsely populated with just over 2000 residents. The Highlands offers a unique opportunity for people looking for a decidedly rural lifestyle.
An important aspect of living in the Highlands is the commitment made by the community to respect its natural surroundings and conserve nature. There is a strong tradition of stewardship among residents, and development is subject to bylaws aimed at preserving the flora and fauna, and rural ambiance of the area. Residents are urged to build homes that minimize environmental impact, and blend into the natural surroundings. Positioning homes so they are not highly visible from roads or viewpoints, reducing vegetation removal and using natural materials in construction are some of the strategies recommended to achieve these ends. This commitment has resulted in a quiet community of unparalleled natural beauty, living in harmony with its spectacular surroundings.
Although seemingly isolated, the Highlands are not far from downtown Victoria and even closer to communities on the Saanich Peninsula or Western Communities. Many residents commute to work as there is little commercial or industrial activity in this municipality.The Victoria International Airport and BC Ferries Swartz Bay Terminal are also nearby. Policing is provided by the RCMP and there is a volunteer-based Fire Department to protect the community.
Housing ranges from rustic cabin style abodes to very high end luxurious homes. There are full-time residents as well as summer homes, but no urban type neighborhoods at all, and thats a deliberate choice that this municipality has made. For those seeking a truly rural lifestyle, the Highlands offers a genuine experience, the people living here are often actively involved in maintaining the local ecosystems. The tradition of volunteerism and a help your neighbour attitude gives the community a strong sense of pioneer spirit.
Due to the slightly higher altitude of this municipality, during the winter months the Highlands experiences cooler temperatures and about 30% more rainfall that Victoria. This serves to recharge the wells that residents rely on for their water.
One third of the District of Highlands is protected municipal, regional or provincial parkland, and these contain some of Greater Victorias most extensive trail systems, offering hiking for people of all ages and abilities; there is even a wheelchair accessible boardwalk located at Francis/King Regional Park. People living in the Highlands enjoy some of the most spectacular parks in southern BC, including:
Caleb Pike Heritage Park is a three acre park containing heritage buildings as well as a heritage orchard. The municipality uses this site for council meetings and community events are held here as well. Caleb Pike settled here in 1883 as a widower with five children, he died in 1888 shortly after completing construction of his homestead;
Gowlland Tod Provincial Park Located on the east shore and uplands of the picturesque Saanich Inlet, the park was created in 1994, a legacy of the Commonwealth Games held in Greater Victoria. Local and provincial governments along with private companies came together creating the Commonwealth Nature Legacy, the aim being to protect this and other natural spaces which could easily have been compromised by the rapid development taking place around Victoria. An extensive network of trails links Gowlland Tod and Mt Work Regional Park, and there are endless options for day hikes;
Mount Work Regional Park contains three small freshwater lakes within its 536 hectares, and popular hikes including the Summit Trail which will lead you through forest and open meadow to the top of Mt Work;
Lone Tree Regional Park on the slopes of Lone Hill is famous for an outstanding show of native wildflowers in the spring, and for an amazing 360 degree view from atop the hill. The namesake, now a decaying trunk of an ancient Douglas Fir, has been replaced by a solitary Arbutus struggling for survival in the harsh conditions, and
Francis/King Regional Park – offers 11 km of forest trails including the Elsie King Trail and boardwalk which is accessible to wheelchairs so the less mobile can experience the joys of a wilderness excursion.
The Highlands possesses a population with a strong sense of community and they enjoy a regular schedule of events not unlike what might have been found in pioneer communities of the past. Popular events include:
Highlands Markets are held the last Sunday of the month May through September at Caleb Pike Heritage Park and feature locally-grown fresh vegetables and locally-made products, including preserves and jams, eggs, honey, crafts, quilting, baby crafts, plants, and more;
Annual Winter Craft Fair usually scheduled for late November, is held at Caleb Pike Heritage Park;
Highlands Halloween Celebration and bonfire is held at Caleb Price House and across the road at the fire-hall;
Annual Highlands Fling is the biggest party of the year for this community, there is a family picnic, entertainment and games;
Annual Easter Egg Hunt a bit of traditional fun held on Easter Sunday at Caleb Pike House, and
Highlands Coffee House the second Saturday of each month October through August you will find locals meeting at Caleb Pike Heritage Park to socialize and discuss community concerns and happenings.
The Highlands has much to offer those who are seeking to step back a bit from urban life. There is the unspoiled natural beauty of mountains, highlands and shoreline, along with parks and trail systems to enjoy these assets. There is a dedicated group of people determined to protect this splendour, and nurture a close knit community which harkens back to a simpler time. And all this within a short commute of any modern amenities a person could desire!

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