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

Esquimalt Gorge Demo Site Update

 May 23, 2023

The Esquimalt Gorge Park Green Shores® for Shoreline Development (GSSD) demonstration site project continues apace with exciting developments, including the completion of technical reports and conceptual designs, planning for educational outreach, embarking upon the permit approval process, and identification of next steps.

Technical Report Completed

The coastal engineering report that supports all the restoration planning for the site has been completed by WSP Golder. Highlights include comprehensive descriptions of the physical environment, including prevailing winds, tide heights, evidence of erosion, and predicted impacts of climate change.

Concept Design Drafted

Using data provided in the coastal engineering report, the Landscape Architecture firm LEES and Associates completed a Design Concept Plan for Green Shores® restoration that meets the specific requirements of theEsquimalt Gorge Park shoreline and upland area usage.

Design highlights include planting with native vegetation, controlled access to the riparian zone with a new loop trail constructed from permeable materials, and foreshore restoration, including tidal marsh enhancement. Some species to be planted in the upland and riparian zones include Big Leaf Maple, Red Twig Dogwood, and Ocean Spray. In addition, plants such as Saltwort and Dune Grass will be installed in the beach zone or foreshore area.

Planned plantings at the site include big leaf maple (left), ocean spray (centre), and saltwort (right). Photos by Kyla Sheehan.

Additional Funding Received

The Province of BC provided additional funding to the Township of Esquimalt to support this GSSD restoration project through the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF). Further enhancements, such as installing a Mobi-mat®,  will provide shoreline access to visitors with mobility challenges.

Permitting Process Underway

The permitting process for this GSSD restoration area is underway and relies heavily upon the Green Shores Guide to BC Expedited Permit Process for Nature-based Projects. Collaboration with project partners, provincial and federal agencies, and consultants has been key to progress thus far. Shared knowledge and learnings from the World Fisheries Trust’s Portage Inlet Cutthroat Initiative fish habitat restoration project and the nearby Songhees Walkway Pocket Beach  GSSD have provided valuable insights to move the project forward.

Signage in Development

The Esquimalt Gorge GSSD Technical Team Signage Sub-committee is developing a minimum of five signs to be displayed around the restoration site for education and outreach. The signage will include ‘Green Shores for Shoreline Development’ – describing the restoration of this site using the Green Shores nature-based framework, ‘Birds, Birds, Birds’ – a sign celebrating the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary where the Gorge is located, ‘Ecology of the Gorge’ to inform visitors about the ecosystems and the species they may encounter, and more.

Next Steps Include:

Construction - July to October 2023

Foreshore and upland restoration is tentatively set for the upcoming Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) “Projects Near Water” window of July 1- October 1, 2023. Contract specifications are being developed using the abovementioned coastal engineering and landscape architect conceptual design plans.

Indigenous Engagement

The Town of Esquimalt is consulting with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations. It has welcomed input on the creation of signage to convey the cultural values of the Esquimalt Gorge and surrounding areas.

Community Outreach

A large community event is planned for October 2023 at the Esquimalt Gorge Pavilion and environs in collaboration with the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary (VMBS) 100-year anniversary celebration. Outreach activities may include Green Shores training opportunities and forage fish sampling demonstrations conducted by Peninsula Streams and Shorelines. Stay tuned for further information on this special event, and check back often at our Resilient Coasts events page!

Photo credit: Kyla Sheehan and Mobi-Mat, courtesy Deschamps Mat Systems Inc.

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