Institute of Ocean Science Green Space, North Saanich

ios pond 4The gardens bordering the entrance of the Institute of Ocean Science (IOS) are designed with relaxing and contemplation in mind.  The property was formerly one of the Spencer homes and had been landscaped with eastern white, incense and Atlas cedar trees. Norway spruce, Irish yew and a Spanish fir complete the collection of cedars. The large atrium entrance way has a welcoming pond and garden beds. The parking lot is also surrounded by grassy areas and flower shrubs. A series of Russian olive trees, Elaeaganus angustifolia, were planted here. There are few picnic tables and benches as this place is favored for watching the vessels used by the Canadian Coast Guard and used for oceanographic research as they navigate the waters of Patricia Bay and Saanich Inlet. This green space is close to the Lomond Ferry Green Space, Flight Path, Patricia Bay Beach Park and Scoter Trail.

Geographic coordinates  N48° 38′ 59″ W123° 26′ 52″

You can get to the IOS Green Space from Pat Bay Highway.  Exit the highway at Exit 26, the McTavish Interchange, an unique and confusing series of roundabouts that make a multi-circle roadway overpass. Take the third exit onto McTavish Road then take the first exit onto Canora Road. Continue onto Willingdon Road and at the next roundabout, take the second exit to stay on Willingdon Road. Pass the airport entrance and continue to West Saanich Road. Turn left at the intersection and then right to access the parking lot of IOS. This parking lot has some visitor spaces.

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Victoria International Airport Green Spaces, North Saanich

There are several enjoyable green spaces that are part of property of Victoria International Airport (YYJ). Dickson Woods is private Douglas-fir and cedar forest located close to the south side of the main airport terminal along Willingdon Road.  There are trails around the woods access off Dickson Road. The Flight Path is a paved walking and cycling trail that circles the entire airport facility. This nearly ten kilometer trail was built by the airport authority and enables its staff as well as visitors to explore the North Saanich neighborhoods. Along the Flight Path are the restored concrete gateposts that mark the access route used in the early nineteen forties by the Patricia Bay Royal Canadian Air Force for its Northwest Camp Operations and Training Facility. This unique reminder is surrounded by garden beds and grassy areas with a few benches to enjoy the view of the airfield as well as waters of Patricia Bay. There is also a drinking water fountain installed here. Be sure to enjoy the lovely garden beds and lawns seen at the entrance to the airport and parking area. There are appealing shrubs and bushes that line the front of the main building. The “Bouquet of Memories” outdoor art greets arriving and departing airport passengers as does the trio of totem poles. The five eight-meter-tall aluminum and steel “flowers” blend their vibrant colors with the garden beds between Electra Boulevard and the short term parking lot.

Victoria International Airport Totems

The Coastal Salish totems that greet visitors depict the orca, thunderbird, raven, wolf and bear.  There are rain water gardens and swale ditches which replaced usual the catch basins and culverts now manage the waters and potential waste products that the airport accumulates. The upland and riparian area of TenTen Creek form another second growth forested area on the western side the airport. Reay Creek watershed drains the airport lands to the Bazan Bay and Sidney Channel of the Salish Sea. The four hundred and eighty five hectares that comprise the lands around the airport are continually monitored to limit damage to wildlife and birds that dwell in this area.

Geographic coordinates  N48° 38’ 14″ W123° 25′ 46″

You can get to the Victoria International Airport from Pat Bay Highway.  Turn at Exit 26, the McTavish Interchange, the unique and confusing series of roundabouts that make a multi-circle roadway overpass. Take the third exit onto McTavish Road then take the first exit onto Canora Road. Continue onto Willingdon Road. At the next roundabout take the second exit to stay on Willingdon Road and onto the airport.

Chipmunk Court Green Space

A large grassy triangular easement between Canora and East Saanich roads forms the Chipmunk Court Green Space. This area is across from the service station along Canora Road. It provides a good yet underutilized respite from the roadways at this unusual merge of two roadways. The green space that surrounds a utility pole and box.

Geographic coordinates  N48° 38’ 16″ W123° 25′ 5″

You can get to Chipmunk Court Green Space from Pat Bay Highway.  Turn left at Beacon Avenue and left onto Stirling Way. Follow the road as it curves around the fence line of the airport to become Ocean Avenue West. At the junction with Canora Road turn left and look for baseball diamonds of Rotary Park, on the right, after passing the sign for British Columbia Aviation Museum. Turn right onto Chipmunk Court and continue onto the large gravel parking area Chipmunk Court Green Space is at the junction with East Saanich and Canora roads.

Rotary Park – Field of Dreams

Rotary Park is a busy ball park during the spring, summer and autumn months. This well designed park hosts five groomed ball diamonds as well as a small toddler playground. The baseball and softball practices and games are organized by the Peninsula Baseball and Softball Association.  Each diamond is slightly different to accommodate the various baseball and softball divisions. Ball games can be watched from the spectator stands or from one of the many picnic tables in the park.  The concession, washrooms and facility are open during events. The park is set amongst the agricultural lands of Pendray Farms and is located next to the Victoria International Airport. The walking and cycling trail called the Flight Path passes by Rotary Park along East Saanich Road.

Geographic coordinates  N48° 38’ 16″ W123° 25′ 8″

You can get to Rotary Park from Pat Bay Highway.  Turn left at Beacon Avenue and left again onto Stirling Way. Follow the road as it curves around the fence line of the airport to become Ocean Avenue West. At the junction with Canora Road turn left and look for the ball park, on the right, just after passing the sign for British Columbia Aviation Museum. Turn right onto Chipmunk Court and continue onto the large gravel parking area which is well away from the ball diamonds. Rotary Park can also be reached from Pat Bay Highway exiting at the McTavish Interchange, an unique and confusing multi-circle roadway overpass, which leads to the southern section of Canora Road.

Patricia Bay Beach Park

This wonderful waterfront park is a great stop for those who enjoy watching ships and float-planes in Patricia Bay and Saanich Inlet.  The park overlooks the seaplane docks and the Institute of Ocean Sciences and Coast Guard wharf.  An information sign shares habitat and animal descriptions for this unique marine shoreline.  A circular and nicely sloped asphalt trail along the shore of Pat Bay provides an area to stretch your legs and makes using wheeled chairs easy.  The park has toilets and picnic tables.  A small parking lot completes the park.

The shore area of the beach has a lot of large rocks with some sandy areas. Most of the seashore is a lovely mudflat, for those who enjoy them, with eel grass and marine algae.  At lower tides a multitude of small marine animals are visible.  TenTen Creek flows into the bay on the southern end of the park. The estuary of this urban creek provides habitat for a variety of fish and other organisms including coastal cutthroat trout. It is easy to extend a walk along the beach using Scoter Trail or around the airport using the Flight Path. Or if  you feel tempted go for a swim in the very refreshing shallow waters of Patricia Bay.

Geographic coordinates N48° 39′ 12″ W123° 26′ 44″

This park can be reached from Pat Bay Highway.  Turn left onto Beacon Avenue and follow the road as it turns to eventually become McDonald Park Road. At the intersection turn left onto Mills Road.  Continue on Mills Road to reach West Saanich Road. Turn left onto West Saanich Road and for the signage for Patricia Bay Beach Park and the small paved parking area near the toilets. There is limited roadside parking along West Saanich Road.

Scoter Trail

scotor trail ns2One of many birds seen in and around the waters of Patricia Bay is the sea bird called a scoter. An example is the surf scoter, Melanitta perspicillata, with its black stocky body and a couple of white spots on its head and neck. Its bill typically looks slightly swollen and may or not have an bright orange band. Scoter Trail starts near Patricia Bay Beach Park and continues northward about a kilometer along the shores of Patricia Bay. This walking trail has some paved and gravel sections as well a couple of staircases that lead up to West Saanich Road. Wsiken Creek flows into Patricia Bay just past the end of Scoter Trail. The waters of Patricia Bay may warm up enough for swimming during the summer months.

Geographic coordinates N48° 39′ 14″ W123° 26′ 44″

Scoter Trail can be reached from Pat Bay Highway.  Turn left onto Beacon Avenue and follow the road as it turns to eventually become McDonald Park Road. At the intersection turn left onto Mills Road.  Continue on Mills Road to reach West Saanich Road. Turn left onto West Saanich Road and for the signage for Patricia Bay Beach Park and the small paved parking area near the toilets. Scoter Trail can be access from the northern end of this park or from several pathways off of West Saanich Road to the north of this point. There is limited roadside parking along West Saanich Road.

Holy Trinity Anglican Church Green Space

holy trinity churchLocated at the corner of Mills Road and West Saanich Road, the Holy Trinity Anglican Church and cemetery were completed by 1885. The church presents the architecture of that period in its Gothic Revival Style with high pitched roof lines and open beams. The gravestones composed of either granite, sandstone and marble are inscribed with a variety of styles and symbols. The church with its surrounding green space is a pleasant place to stroll while you learn about the history of settlers in this area of Saanich Peninsula. Both the church and cemetery are heritage sites. The Flight Path  passes right beside the church. This multiuse trail circles the Victoria International Airport and is a pleasant way to extend your walk in your backyard. Across West Saanich Road is Patricia Bay Beach Park and Scoter Trail.

Geographic coordinates N48° 39′ 19″ W123° 26′ 43″

This green space can be reached from Pat Bay Highway.  You turn left at Beacon Avenue and follow it as it turns to become McDonald Park Road. Turn left on the intersection with Mills Road.  Follow Mills Road until you see the church and a parking lot is just before the junction of Mills and West Saanich Road.