A swimming platform quietly installed in the Gorge waterway has the support of Victoria city council, as long as it’s not harming the marine environment around it.
On July 15, Aryze Developments installed a circular dock in the Gorge Waterway near Banfield Park for swimmers to rest on and take in the views. The first person to notice the dock was awarded a coffee shop gift card and the first swimmer to reach the platform was treated to Phillips Brewery beer that had been left there by the company.
Now, the dock’s position in the Gorge may be at risk. On Sept. 10, Aryze Development co-owner Luke Mari explained the company had been contacted by the federal government and told they needed a permit for the platform to remain in the water. The company has applied to the Canadian government and submitted maps, drawings and information for consideration. Now, the application has entered the public feedback phase and Aryze Developments is calling on the community to show support by leaving a comment on the application.
During Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, a motion brought forward by Couns. Ben Isitt and Jeremy Loveday asked staff to write to Transport Canada to indicate the city supports the ongoing use of the swimming platform.
City staff are planning to bring forward a report surrounding the risks and concerns at some point in November, including having a diver check out the underwater impact.
Isitt proposed an amendment asking staff to look into the suitability of that area for the platform and any recommendations that may be brought forward with a “view towards minimizing the impact on the marine environment.” Staff said this amendment fit with the plan they already had in place for dealing with the dock.
Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe purposed an amendment asking staff to look into public health concerns around swimming to the dock, brought on by an email from a resident who said they would not swim in the Gorge without a hazmat suit and an iodine scrub.
Loveday said that was a bigger discussion to have and he did not support the amendment, adding he has heard conflicting information that the Gorge is “actually one of the cleanest” places to swim.
Mayor Lisa Helps agreed with Loveday.
The goal of the dock – called Project Albero, which means “tree” in Italian – was to encourage active use of the harbour and spark a conversation about urban change, Mari said in July.
The circular wooden dock, which features a sloped incline for swimmers to climb up and a Japanese Katsura tree, was designed to be compliant with regulations, said Mari. He noted that it’s not located in a high-traffic area of the waterway, it’s been lit for visibility and the impact on the seafloor plants was minimized.
– with files from Devon Bidal