Victoria to Sidney (Patricia Bay Highway)
The Victoria to Sidney stretch of the highway is 32 kilometres (20 mi). Then you take a one-hour ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen, and a leisurely 44-kilometre drive on the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR) to get to the Trans-Canada at Surrey.
TIP: If you have come to Victoria via the Horseshoe Bay-Nanaimo Ferry and driven down-island, this is a nice fast way to return home. You can also go in the reverse direction, visiting Victoria first, and then heading up-island to Nanaimo, visiting Port Alberni and Tofino, before heading to Vancouver Island’s northern areas.
Highway 17 from Victoria to Sidney (also call the Patricia Bay Highway or “Pat Bay Highway” for short) has had its present course since 1978, when the Blanshard extension was completed. From Mile Zero on Dallas Road, head straight north on Douglas Street, with Beacon Hill Park on your right. After crossing Southgate/Superior Streets, Douglas Street forks into two one-way streets. The northbound route now follows Blanshard Street, which is designated BC Highway 17, the southbound is Douglas Street and designated “Trans-Canada Highway #1”. At the next street, Belleville, you can turn left to the visit the Victoria Inner Harbour and the BC Legislature Building.
Most drivers will continue northbound, where Blanshard become two-way north of Fisgard Street and the road continues northbound past the Mayfair Shopping Centre. If you are continuing on Trans-Canada Highway #1 to Nanaimo, head to #1 at Cloverdale Ave west for 2 blocks.
After Swan Lake Park (on the east side of Blanshard) where the road divides for a few blocks for a Big Box retail zone, the road is re-designated the Patricia Bay Highway (and continues as Highway #17).
If you are SOUTHBOUND, at this point, turn right after the Walmart Supercenter, and go right to Highway #1/Douglas St southbound.
A few kilometres north you connect with #17A northwest to Brentwood Bay and Butchart Gardens, and a shortcut ferry across Saanich Inlet to Mill Bay on the Trans-Canada #1. Then you pass Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park (you’ll often see rowers training on the lake). Then you pass through First Nations territory, which is noticeable only because of the sudden density of billboards (local and provincial highways signage restrictions do not apply on First Nations land, though speed limits do).
Then you pass through Saanichton, North Saanich and pass by Victoria International Airport on the west before passing the seaside town of Sidney, which is worth a stop if you know you have a wait for the ferry to the mainland. Then you pass several sailing/fishing marinas on the east side of the highway before arriving at the Swartz Bay ferry terminal.
TIP: book your ferry passage in advance, going online to BCFerries.com