They are one of the best-known attractions in the Greater Victoria area, and now Hatley Park Gardens at Royal Roads University will be permanently open to the public free of charge.

University president Philip Steenkamp made the announcement on Sunday.

“The vast majority of the 565 acres of oceanfront, walking trails and old-growth forest that comprise Hatley Park National Historic Site have always been free for our neighbours and tourists to enjoy. Now the gates to the garden are open as well,” said Steenkamp.

The 10-acre heritage gardens are located between century-old Hatley Castle and Esquimalt Lagoon.

The University says they attract tens of thousands of paid visitors year-round.

“It’s a magnificent setting for people who learn, teach and work here. I’m delighted that more of our community will now get to enjoy the artistry of the gardeners and groundskeepers who care for
our botanical and historical treasures,” said Steenkamp.

Guided tours of the gardens and the castle will continue to be available for a charge.