Frequently Asked Questions
1. Getting Here
- How do I get to Victoria from the mainland by car and ferry or by bus?
- How do I get to Victoria by plane?
- Where is First†Metropolitan United Church and how do I get there?
- Where do I park?
2. Epiphany Explorations
- Where can I find information about Epiphany Explorations events?
- When can I pick up my registration package?
- Is the symposium accessible for persons with disabilities?
- How can I purchase recordings of symposium sessions?
- Where can I find some quiet space?
- How can my family contact me in case of emergency?
- How can I return to the airport or ferry terminal?
3. Staying in Victoria
- Where can I stay? Who is the hotel partner for this event?
- What is the weather like in late January? What should I bring or pack?
- Where can I have lunch or dinner close to the symposium location?
- Where can I go for some exercise?
- I would like to walk a labyrinth. Where can I go?
- I would like to attend church services of another denomination—where can I go?
- I would like to spend some time in the City before or after the symposium. What can I see or do?
1. Getting Here
How do I get to Victoria from the mainland by car and ferry or by bus?
Victoria is located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Traveling by car, you must take a ferry from Tsawwassen in the Lower Mainland to Swartz Bay, a 1½ hour ferry trip. For information on schedules and fares, please visit BC Ferries. The trip from Swartz Bay terminal to downtown via the Patricia Bay Highway (#17) is approximately 40 km and takes 30 to 45 minutes.
You may travel on the ferry as a foot passenger. Parking is available at the terminal for those who drive to Tsawwassen. You may also take a Pacific Coach Lines (PCL) bus from the Vancouver bus terminal or use the BC Transit system. If you have not already purchased a bus ticket to downtown Victoria, you may either take PCL which boards on the ferry or the local transit bus from the Swartz Bay foot passenger terminal. If you plan to take PCL, please listen for the announcement at the beginning of your ferry trip and purchase your ticket within the first 30 minutes of the sailing. The public transit service is significantly cheaper, but the trip is longer at both ends.
Travellers from Washington State have four options:
- cross the border into BC and then take BC Ferries (travel by car or as a foot passenger)
- MV Coho from Port Angeles to downtown Victoria (travel by car or as a foot passenger)
- Washington State Ferries from Anacortes to Sidney, just north of Victoria (travel by car or as a foot passenger)
- travel as a foot passenger on the Victoria Clipper from downtown Seattle to downtown Victoria
How do I get to Victoria by plane?
Our experience over several years has shown that you will often be able to find better airfares by watching for seat sales or online specials than by using a conference number. We therefore have discontinued the practice of having an official airline carrier. Please contact Air Canada or WestJet directly to make your flight arrangements.
We regret that we cannot make individual arrangements to pick you up from the airport. However, since many of you will be arriving on the same day, may we suggest some possible creative planning on your part?
If you wish to share a taxi to the hotel or church, you could hold up signs saying “Epiphany Conference” in the Arrivals area. If others follow suit, you may connect to share transportation.
Another alternative is the AKAL Airport Shuttle, which leaves from just outside the Arrivals area every half-hour. It will transport you to any hotel or bed and breakfast in the city at a cost of approximately $21.00.
Where is First†Metropolitan United Church and how do I get there?
See our “how to find us” page.
Where do I park while attending Epiphany Explorations?
Pay parking lots are operated by the City of Victoria and Robbins, a private company, and are available year-round. Conference organizers also negotiate with nearby churches and other organizations for parking near First†Metropolitan United Church during Epiphany Explorations. The closest City-operated lot is at Royal Athletic Park, 940 Caledonia St. Special conference rates are generally available at this lot. Please check with the registration desk for the cost and location of parking. Please carpool or use the hotel shuttle bus when possible.
2. Epiphany Explorations
Where can I find information about Epiphany Explorations events?
See the Epiphany Explorations section for an overview, details of the next annual event, and archives of past events.
When can I pick up my registration package?
Registration will begin at the church on Thursday, January 19, 2012 from 10:00 am and continue throughout the conference for later arrivals. Please use the entrance doors located on Balmoral Road. The Hospitality Team will be on hand to respond to your inquiries about the conference, local arrangements and the City of Victoria. If you are coming directly to the church before going to your hotel or connecting with your billet, a luggage storage room will be available. The on-site bookstore will be open from 11:00 am.
Is the symposium accessible for persons with disabilities?
For information regarding accessibility and other accommodating special requirements during Epiphany Explorations, read our Special Needs policy.
How can I purchase DVDs of conference sessions?
DVDs of many sessions may be ordered at the conference. An order sheet for these will be enclosed in your registration package. Take your completed order form and cash or cheque for the full amount of the order to the registration desk.
Where can I find some quiet space?
A quiet room for reflection and prayer is provided at First†Metropolitan United Church. Please consult your conference package for the location.
How can my family contact me in case of emergency?
During the conference, the emergency contact number is (250) 888-2150. This phone number, located at the registration desk, may be used to leave urgent messages for conference participants. Messages will be posted on a message board in the Fellowship Hall. Please check the board during breaks for messages. In particularly urgent situations, an announcement may be made during the opening or closing of a session.
How can I return to the airport or ferry terminal?
As offering return transportation by car to the airport or ferry is not environmentally responsible and is prohibitively expensive due to the price of fuel, please make your own arrangements. The AKAL Airport Shuttle offers pickups at the Backpackers Inn Turtle Refuge, 1608 Quadra Street (just half a block from the church) to those who book the shuttle the night before.
Those returning to the ferry terminal can travel economically using public transit or the Pacific Coach Lines service. Schedules for both will be available at the information desk in the registration area.
3. Staying in Victoria
Where can I stay? Who is the hotel partner for this event?
Victoria has a wide range of accommodations in all price ranges. If you prefer to find your own accommodation, you may wish to visit the Tourism Victoria Accommodation listings for a wide range of hotel, bed and breakfast and hostel listings. Our preferred accommodation partners for the conference are:
- Best Western Carlton Plaza, 642 Johnson St. Toll-free phone: 1-(800) 663-7241, ask for Connie Stecyk and ask for the FIRSTMET rate of $75 for up to 3 persons sharing a studio suite (with kitchen) or guest room. book before Dec 15.
- Executive House Hotel, 777 Douglas St. Toll-free phone: 1-(800) 663-7001. Quote the code EPIPH3 when reserving. Rate: $85 per night single or double guest room, $105 per 1-bdrm suite, $20 per additional person. book before Dec 15.
What is the weather like in late January? What should I bring or pack?
Victoria has the mildest climate in Canada. Although January can be cool, it is rare to have a snowfall. The average monthly rainfall in winter is 5 cm (2″) and the average temperature in January is 3°C (38°F). Although winters are mild, warmer clothing, water-resistant footwear and an umbrella are recommended between the months of November and March. Before leaving home, check the weather forecast for Victoria.
At the conference itself, please dress in layers so that you could put on or remove a sweater or jacket to remain comfortable. The church is a large, old building and while we attempt to adjust the temperature to suit the participants, it is not possible to arrive at a temperature that is comfortable for all.
Where can I have lunch or dinner close to the symposium location?
There are over 15 restaurants offering a variety of cuisines and with varying price ranges within a five block radius of the church. A list of nearby restaurants will be included in your conference package.
Where can I go for some exercise?
I would like to walk a labyrinth. Where can I go?
An outdoor labyrinth is located just south of Christ Church (Anglican) Cathedral at Quadra and Burdett Streets (approximately six blocks from First†Metropolitan United Church.)
I would like to attend church services of another denomination—where can I go?
Victoria has congregations of many denominations. Here are some nearby churches:
- Anglican: St. John the Divine, 1611 Quadra Street
- Roman Catholic: St. Andrews Cathedral, 740 View Street
- Baptist: First Baptist, 877 North Park
- Presbyterian: St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, 680 Courtney Street
- Lutheran: Grace Lutheran, 1273 Fort Street
I would like to spend some time in the City before or after the symposium. What can I see or do?
In winter, Victoria’s mild climate and early spring make it an attractive vacation spot. You can expect to see early flowers such as winter jasmine, snowdrops and flowering plum in late January. May we suggest:
- The Centre for Studies in Religion and Society offers lectures, seminars and other events
- Our Place Society ( a United Church Outreach Ministry), phone (250) 385-2454
- World-famous Butchart Gardens, beautiful in any season
- Royal BC Museum
- play golf or simply stroll the Inner Harbour walkways
- walk the beach-side walkway on Dallas Road or at Willows Beach
See the Tourism Victoria website for more things to do.