#Victoria#city focus#Condé Nast#city of gardens

City Focus: Victoria

Catherine Sturman
|Oct 5|magazine16 min read

The oldest city in the Pacific Northwest and the capital of British Columbia, Victoria has placed significant investment in its infrastructure without compromising on what it values most

Consistently ranked as one of the world’s top 10 friendliest cities by Condé Nast, Victoria, Canada, remains a top destination of choice for corporate and leisure travelers.

Following the Gold Rush and subsequent industrialization of the 19th century, Victoria’s rich history combined with a unique modern twist has created a fusion of cultures and traditions, attracting over 1.9mn tourists in 2017.

However, with a population of 85,792 citizens, the thriving, diverse city has placed significant investment in its infrastructure to cater towards its growing numbers, without compromising on its stunning landscapes.

Housing world-renowned educational establishments such as the University of Victoria as well as a flourishing business focus, the city has gained one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada and has been ranked as Canada’s Best City to Live in for Women. Additionally, it was recently voted amongst the top 10 rising star locations for meetings and conferences in Smart Meetings Magazine.

Positioned close to Vancouver and Seattle, Victoria is home to a large western naval base, an established fishing fleet and a booming IT sector, offering a high quality of life for those situated in nearby cities.

Enticing businesses, investors and developers in areas ranging from commercial and retail to real estate, the city’s business hub provides a vital base for budding entrepreneurs wishing to establish a new business or invest in the city.

Additionally, the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) also supports over 1500 members, and provides a number of grant programs, such as a Clean, Safe and Sustainable Grant and Marketing and Events Grants, as well as offering essential contacts, agents or companies to enable new businesses to prosper.

A growing infrastructure

As the city continues to grow in popularity, numbers utilizing Victoria International Airport have surpassed 1.9mn per annum. With this in mind, Victoria Airport Authority has announced plans to invest $24.9mn (CAN$19.4mn) in doubling the size of its lower passenger department lounge, incorporating the construction of new aircraft procedures, increased security and new food and beverage facilities for travelers to enjoy.

Providing direct flights to nearby Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal, the airport also offers links to Edmonton and Kelowna. Additionally, services to San Francisco and Seattle also remain popular with residents and tourists alike.

For those who want more of a sightseeing experience upon leaving the airport, the city has embraced the use of float planes and ferries, providing spectacular views of the city and its local wildlife, in particular Canada’s iconic whales and seals, before entering Victoria’s iconic Inner Harbor. 

Those exploring the city on foot will also not be disappointed: Victoria is home to one of the best pedestrian-centered infrastructures in Canada, with many transport options on offer.


City of Gardens

Underpinned by the city’s Regional Transit System, commuters are provided essential connection links to all transportation routes, as well as access to the Greater Victoria Area, home to over 367,000 citizens.

Nicknamed the ‘City of Gardens’, featuring a total of over 3.4bn blooms in 2018, Victoria has been recognized as one of the top 10 smallest cities in the world, but one which is vibrant and beautiful. With a number of outdoor activities on offer, its pedestrian-friendly pathways have filtered into its Pedestrian Master Plan to maintain and enhance the quality of life of residents and visitors, increase the number of trips made and guarantee safety every time.

With 48 regional, provincial and federal parks to explore, totaling close to 8,000 hectares, Beacon Hill Park, downtown Victoria, is popular for those who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Close to a number of transport links and hotels, the park is renowned for housing the world’s largest free-standing totem pole, in homage to its aboriginal history.

Within downtown Victoria, the oldest surviving Chinatown in the world, Fan Tan Alley, is renowned for its unique shops and restaurants. Once a popular gambling district, it has gained the title of the narrowest commercial street in North America at 0.9 meters wide (at its narrowest).

Additionally, Victoria’s 19th century shipping and fur trading businesses can be visited in Old Town, where visitors can stumble upon historic landmarks, become part of the city’s bustling restaurant scene and gain stunning views of the city’s harbour.


Sustainable living

As the population of the city of Victoria is predicted to rise to unprecedented levels in the next decade, the city has heavily invested in its transportation links to bolster sustainability, reduce emissions and guarantee exceptional quality of living for its residents.

With a number of regional trail networks, Victoria is passionate about fully promoting healthy living; it has embedded more cycle routes than any other Canadian city. Such investment has led sports enthusiasts, leisure seekers and corporate travelers to take full advantage of the city’s rugged coastlines.

Consequently, a recent study by the Capital Regional District (CRD) and Statistics Canada has found that significant numbers are now choosing to walk, cycle and utilize public transport in the city, with the number of drivers down by 34%.

Victoria’s long term aim to build a robust cycling infrastructure network to encourage increased numbers to engage in sustainable living is also reflected in its Official Community Plan (OCP), which has established targets to increase the amount of trips by residents commuting to work to be undertaken via walking, cycling and/or public transit by 70% by 2041.

Victoria’s historic charm, boutique shops and stunning scenery will all be significant factors which will drive ongoing tourist figures. However, with a strong emphasis and commitment to foster business growth, whilst developing a sustainable future and robust infrastructure, the city is set to unlock further economic development and provide tremendous opportunities for anyone wishing to take full advantage of all the city has to offer.