Covering over 103 square kilometres, the District of Saanich is the largest and most populous municipality on Vancouver Island, and the ninth most populated in the province of British Columbia. Located north of Victoria and part of the Greater Victoria Capital Region District, Saanich has a population of approximately 114,000 people living in 49,000 homes. Divided into 12 unique communities, each area of Saanich is represented by an active community association which provides regular input to the District Council on a wide range of local issues and interests.
Because of its large size, Saanich contains a diverse geography with both urban and rural areas including vibrant suburban residential and rural agricultural communities. Bordering the city of Victoria to the south, Saanich spans the southern tip of Vancouver Island, reaching all the way across the Saanich Peninsula to the northern shore of the Island. Outdoor enthusiasts love Saanich for its variety of natural landscape, including rich forests, wildflower meadows, mountain parks, and ocean views. Water is abundant in Saanich: there are 8 kilometres of fresh water lakes in the region in addition to almost 30 kilometres of ocean shoreline, featuring picturesque rock outcroppings, quiet coves, and sandy ocean beaches.
As one of the oldest agricultural settlements in British Columbia, Saanich is still home to many farms of varying sizes. 18% of Saanich is protected rural land, and a close connection between the urban and rural areas means agriculture continues to be central to the Saanich character. Garden enthusiasts are drawn to Saanich, and the regional Council encourages backyard gardens, community gardens, and supports locally grown and raised food sources.
Major features of urban Saanich include the University of Victoria campus, with over 21,000 students and a vibrant arts culture; the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, housing a large telescope and the Centre of the Universe astronomy interpretive centre; the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary, a rich habitat for a variety of bird and animal wildlife; and Bear Hill Regional Park, a 46 hectare hill top parkland with some of the oldest rock outcroppings on Vancouver Island.