What We Do
The Gorge Waterway Action Society (GWAS) is focused on environmental education, primarily through the Gorge Waterway Nature House. It also conducts restoration, conservation, and stewardship programs in the Gorge. We take on projects that support the ecological health of the Gorge Waterway, as well as the social well being of the people who live within the watershed. We do this through our active Board, volunteers, and the university summer students we employ.
Mission: Dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the Gorge Waterway in Victoria, British Columbia.
GWAS supports environmental education in the community through our involvement with the Gorge Waterway Nature House located in Esquimalt Gorge Park. Specifically, GWAS manages the human resources at the Nature House, staffing it with volunteers and summer students. The Nature House has numerous education programs catered to all age ranges and learning levels. With the interactive Seaquria Aquarium touch tank, watershed model, and surrounding urban forest and wetlands, there are endless applications for the space. Staff and volunteers at the Nature House support the educational team at World Fisheries Trust who facilitate these programs. GWAS also hosts community events to showcase the results of years of restoration work and societal changes in the area.
Shoreline Restoration & Conservation
GWAS focuses our restoration efforts on collaborating with existing community groups working on the Gorge to supply support to their projects and fill existing voids in resoration work. In 2016, we focused on the removal of invasive and parasitic species in Esquimalt Gorge Park. In the summer of 2017, we plan to conduct a GWAS directed restoration project as well as conduct a Gorge-wide directory of past and current terrestrial, riparian, and marine restoration and stewardship projects on the Gorge to create a more comprehensive overview of the habitat restoration efforts.
Water and Land Stewardship
The Gorge Waterway Action Society supports stewardship to achieve the short, medium and long term goals for protection, enhancement and restoration of the Gorge. Initiatives are underway to work with landowners, community groups and municipalities to develop and implement better Gorge Waterway stewardship.
Water Quality and Clean Ups
The Gorge Waterway Action Society participates in and also organizes cleanups of the waterway and shoreline.
A few of the past successes over GWAS 20 year History:
- Providing and managing the human resources for the Gorge Waterway Nature House in 2016. The Nature House was open a record 122 days, welcoming over 1,900 visitors.
- GWAS has and continues to contribute to the development of Official Community Plans and Neighbourhood plans of the municipalities bordering the Gorge.
- GWAS benchmarked the status of the Esquimalt Gorge shoreline using video, still photos, maps and narrative documentation to support Esquimalt's implementation of its Gorge Development Permit Zone.
- GWAS surveyed, photographed, and documented the existing dock facilities in the Victoria Arm. The City of Victoria used that data in the development of the City dock policy in 2000.
- GWAS surveyed and compiled information about their understanding of Gorge issues from candidates in the 1999 and 2002 municipal elections.
- GWAS established a Legal Defence Fund to use when necessary to protect the Gorge. The fund was used to convince the City of Victoria to designate as parkland two City-owned waterfront lots on Burleith Crescent rather than sell them for development.
- GWAS lobbied for several years to convince public officials to open the Selkirk Trestle to pedestrian and cycle traffic.
- GWAS completed a project to compile historical Gorge information from newspaper and public archives for Gorge awareness displays.
- The Gorge Waterway Action Society has provided waterfront property owners and managers with by-donation and low-cost environmental property descriptions.