Swimmers jump off the dock at Banfield Park and into the the Gorge Waterway to help promote the upcoming Gorge Swim Fest.

Swim aims to cleanup Gorge’s reputation

Victoria's third annual Gorge Swim Fest set for Aug. 10

As the Gorge Swim Fest enters its third year, society director Jack Meredith hopes on taking the Gorge back to the turn of the 20th century, when thousands of Victorians spent the weekend soaking in the sun on the waterway.

The Gorge fell from favour in the 1940s, partly due to the appearance of swimming pools in Victoria, and as a result of becoming increasingly polluted.

It wasn’t until 1996 that the Gorge became a priority again, with a cleanup campaign led by John Roe.

Presently, the beaches on the Gorge hold some of the lowest fecal coliform levels in Greater Victoria, according to the Vancouver Island Health Authority. Still, its reputation hasn’t been so easy to clean up.

“The response from people is almost predictable,” Meredith said. “Yhey’re surprised people are swimming there. I’m often asked ‘isn’t it dirty? Isn’t it cold?’ The water was 26 degrees the other day, that’s almost too warm to swim in.”

Meredith said that a huge draw for swimmers is the Gorge’s proximity to town, and as it sees more and more use each summer, an expansion of infrastructure is due.

He cited a rejuvenation or removal of the seawall at Banfield Park, as well as an expansion of the dock at Esquimalt Gorge Park, as future possibilities.

“I went down to Banfield Park (last Wednesday) and there so many people on the dock that it was to the point of congestion,” Meredith said. “Its starting to get really exciting for us.”

The Gorge Swim Fest takes place Aug. 10, noon to 4 p.m. at Banfield and Esquimalt Gorge parks. Following a “picnic in the park” theme this year, the festival will feature live music and food trucks in addition to swimming.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tour de Rock turns community bubble relay race amid pandemic

Alumni will take on socially distanced leg of race in their hometowns

North Saanich among six communities facing ‘chronic shortage’ of daycare spaces

Findings appear in a report that also analyzed daycare in Central Saanich and Sidney

Oak Bay police seek suspect who broke into liquor store on Cadboro Bay Road

The incident happened at 2:50 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17

MISSING: VicPD seeks 33-year-old man last heard from in August

Scott Grier could have been travelling in Alberta, police say

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

Long-term care need pressuring acute care in Comox Valley, Strathcona

Region could use a couple of large facilities for seniors on the north part of the Island

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

Vancouver’s shuttered aquarium searching for financial solution amid pandemic

The aquarium needs about $1 million a month to cover its costs

Most Read