Resilient Coasts for Salmon is part of the PSF 
Marine Science Program

Esquimalt Gorge Park

The Esquimalt Gorge Park demonstration site — selected in part due to its popularity and accessibility — provides outstanding opportunity for education. After restoration, it will showcase a healthy shoreline and protection of salmon habitat through the application of Green Shores as a nature-based solution framework.

Resilient Coasts for Salmon is partnering with the Capital Regional District (CRD), including Esquimalt Parks and Recreation, to develop a Green Shores demonstration site along a section of the Esquimalt Gorge Park shoreline. Other partners include the Gorge Waterway InitiativeWorld Fisheries TrustGorge Waterway Action Society and the Songhees Nation and Esquimalt Nation.

Project Location

Located on southeastern Vancouver Island, in the residential neighborhood of Esquimalt, the project site is on the south shoreline of the Gorge Waterway, near the parking lot at Sioux Place. It is within the traditional territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən (Lekwungen) People, known today as the Songhees Nation and Esquimalt Nation. The area proposed for restoration is outlined below in red.

The map above shows the proposed project area of the Esquimalt Gorge Park Green Shores for Shoreline Development demonstration site. Map credit: Sara Stallard.

Historically this area looked much different. See the map of the Esquimalt Area in 1854 (University of Victoria Digital Records).

Project Objective

Using a Green Shores® nature‑based approach, restoration of this shoreline will help to reclaim the ecological and cultural values of the site, including the restoration of vital nutrient and sedimentary processes that support all salmon species found in this area. The eroding backshore will be re-graded, stabilized, and planted with native riparian and upland species to provide habitat for amphibians, insects and birds. Non-native vegetation and rock riprap will be removed and the beach will be nourished with a sand-gravel mix of small rock pebbles, pea gravel, and sand. These sediments are well suited to provide a spawning habitat for potential forage fish which support salmon. The beach nourishment will also help to stabilize the backshore against erosion and help to prevent coastal squeeze.

First Site Visit

The project was launched with a site visit in October 2021. Attendees included representatives from Capital Regional District, Esquimalt Parks and Recreation, the Stewardship Centre for BC, Pacific Salmon Foundation, Gorge Waterway Initiative, and World Fisheries Trust. On site activities included a viewing of the different areas of the park including nearby habitat that is currently within a World Fisheries Trust project area and discussions about possible ideas for restoration.

DG Blair Executive Director of SCBC leading a discussion about restoration options. Photo credit: Kelly Loch.
Design Workshop

Ideas for project design were further discussed at a Design Workshop held in Esquimalt in December 2021. Participants included those from the site visit, along with representatives from Golder, Lees and Associates, and the Gorge Waterway Action Society. The objective of this workshop was to review site conditions and context and to consider possible Green Shores design concepts such as planting of native vegetation and bank stabilization. These ideas will be taken forward by the design team of Lees and Associates while using coastal engineering studies by Golder.

Concept Design

The concept plan for Esquimalt Gorge Park:

Check out the Green Shores Feasibility Inventory for the Gorge Waterway and Portage Inlet report to learn about other sites that could be restored in the area in the future, and see this update on our progress at this site.

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