“Our mission is to preserve and enhance the Gorge Waterway through environmental education, restoration, conservation, stewardship, and community involvement.”
The Gorge Waterway Action Society (GWAS) supports environmental education in the community through our involvement with the Gorge Waterway Nature House: a youth-focused interactive environmental education centre, located in Esquimalt Gorge Park. GWAS supplies and manages the human resources at the Nature House, staffing it with volunteers and summer staff. The Nature House has numerous education programs catered to all age ranges and learning levels. With the interactive Seaquaria Aquarium touch tank, watershed model, and surrounding urban forest and wetlands, there are endless opportunities at the Nature House for environmental education.
GWAS works on restoration projects in and around Esquimalt Gorge Park, working in partnership with the Township of Esquimalt, the University of Victoria, and other environmental organizations. We focus on the removal of invasive and parasitic species in Esquimalt Gorge Park, and the planting and propagation of native species. GWAS facilitates directed research projects including 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. In 2020, the Pollinator Meadow project began with photo point monitoring, biophysical inventories of vegetation, along with insect and bird surveys. The area was planted with native trees and shrubs, and seeded with native flowers such as Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Gumweed (Grindelia stricta), and Douglas Aster (Symphotrichum subspicata). Regular mulching and weeding will keep invasive species at bay while these native species become established.
GWAS supports stewardship to achieve the short-, medium-, and long-term goals for protecting, enhancing, and restoring the Gorge. GWAS is a member of the Gorge Waterway Initiative (GWI), a collaborative, community-driven group of organizations concerned with protecting and enhancing the natural ecosystem of the Gorge Waterway and surrounding watersheds.
Water Quality and Clean Ups
The Gorge Waterway Action Society participates in and organizes cleanups of the waterway and shoreline.
The Gorge Waterway Action Society has provided waterfront property owners and managers with by-donation and low-cost environmental property descriptions
GWAS completed a project to compile historical Gorge information from newspaper and public archives for Gorge awareness displays
GWAS lobbied for several years to convince public officials to open the Selkirk Trestle to pedestrian and cycle traffic.
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 surveyed and compiled information about their understanding of Gorge issues from candidates in the 1999 and 2002 municipal elections
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 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 has and continues to contribute to the development of Official Community Plans and Neighbourhood plans of the municipalities bordering the Gorge
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.