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Esquimalt wins facility excellence award for Gorge Park Pavilion

The award was for capital projects over $3 million
The Furusato Dancers perform a Bon Odori Dance on Aug. 26 2023 during the Japanese Cultural Fair at the Esquimalt Gorge Pavilion Park, which just won an award for facility excellence. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)

The Township of Esquimalt received a facility excellence award for the Gorge Park Pavilion, a revitalized community hub on Tillicum Road that opened in June 2022.

The award, which recognizes capital projects over $3 million, was presented by the B.C. Recreation and Parks Association for the “outstanding” facility design that reflects community culture.

“The Township of Esquimalt’s Gorge Park Pavilion is a leading example of how to bring a thriving and sustainable community hub to life, one that supports healing, place-making and community connection,” said Katie Fenn, BCRPA CEO, in a news release. “We are thrilled to present BCRPA’s Facility Excellence Award to this outstanding project.”

The 6,000 square-foot pavilion, which is in Gorge Park, marks the site of the area’s first Japanese tea house that was destroyed almost 80 years ago.

It is constructed primarily of local Vancouver Island timber and stone, incorporating energy-saving features and green initiatives. It boasts 126 new high-efficiency solar panels capable of meeting 50 per cent of the building’s year-round power needs and powering electric vehicle plug-in stations. The facility operates without a gas connection, instead using heat pumps for heating and cooling.

“We are so proud to see this park once again be a community hub and place where so many are making memories,” noted Mayor Barbara Desjardins in the release. “We also recognize, however, that there is still work to be done on telling the story of the park so that visitors understand the full context of the Indigenous and Japanese ties to the site.

Visitors can view the recently unveiled interpretive panels and exhibits that help reflect the history of the tea house. The panels are the latest phase of the Japanese Garden History and Art Project led by the Past Wrongs, Future Choices and the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society in collaboration with the Township.

Read More: PHOTOS: Japanese culture celebrated at Esquimalt event