The Victoria Waterloop offers a route which circumnavigates Esquimalt. The Township is hoping to add a safety portage bridge and ramp to the Tillicum bridge, where there are rapid waters. (File contributed/ vicwaterloop)

Esquimalt explores creating portage beach for choppy Gorge waters

The portage beach would add safety to the Victoria Waterways Loop

The Township of Esquimalt is looking into developing a portage beach and safety ramp as part of the Victoria Waterways Loop.

The 15.5 km loop circumnavigates the Township, visiting the shores of Victoria, View Royal and Esquimalt. One spot near the Tillicum Bridge, however, has given paddlers troubles due to the rapid waters at the site, causing some vessels to capsize.

The idea for a portage beach at the site was recently brought forward to the Township by View Royal Coun. John Rogers, and quickly adopted by Esquimalt Coun. Ken Armour.

“This is a really unique and rather unknown inland waterway that we have a chance to take on as a real tourism and business opportunity,” Armour said during a recent council meeting. “The challenge of course is we have the tidal rapids at the Tillicum Narrows, which are dangerous to navigate, especially for inexperienced kayakers and canoers… the idea of this portage beach and ramp is to overcome this safety challenge.”

ALSO READ: Memories abound as Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club turns 50

Armour added that upgrading the site could afford the opportunity for more signage, including those that illustrate points of interest or local history.

While so far the idea has received more than 30 letters and emails of support from residents, the Township also needs to consider possible problems, including any breach of privacy to the nearby Gorge Point Condominiums, the potential of creating a loud gathering space at a new beach and staying aware of a nearby fenced-off First Nations midden site.

“I’m comfortable to move it forward so we understand all the implications,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.

“I do have many of the same concerns of the challenge that if you open something up that’s slightly hidden, it opens up the opportunity of people to gather, but it could also offer the opportunity to do something around the midden, too.”

READ MORE: Esquimalt council approves building, dog areas for Gorge Park

Council could use funds from the $17 million McLaughlin fund given to the Township as a one-time grant in exchange for the use of McLaughlin Point for the CRD’s wastewater treatment plant. Of that total, $7 million must be used for waterfront improvements, of which a large chunk has already been allotted to the creation of a dog park and multi-purpose building in the Esquimalt Gorge Park.

Initially, any remaining leftovers from the funds were supposed to be allocated to a boardwalk in Saxe Point Park. Township staff said, however, that nothing is set in stone about leftover funds, including whether much will be available. Council voted unanimously to direct staff to investigate into the options for a portage site, including the potential costs.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

kayakingTownship of Esquimalt

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Saanich’s Deep Cove Market up for sale for almost $1.8 million

Long-time owner Rosemary Scott hopes the public will understand her decision

UPDATED: Demonstrators plan to shut down Pat Bay Highway Wednesday afternoon

Adam Olsen, MLA, says issue should be taken to province, not communities

Sidney cougar sighting ‘unverified’ near Tulista Park in Sidney

Conservation Service receives multiple unverified reports of cougars in the region area weekly

Motion for Greater Victoria fare-free youth transit defeated

Victoria Regional Transit Commision votes tied 4-4

Peninsula Panthers pounce on Westshore Wolves during opening game of playoffs

Panthers look to increase their lead to two games in best-of-seven series Wednesday

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Two B.C. men plead guilty to bus-terminal assault of man with autism in Ontario

Parmvir Chahil and Jaspaul Uppal due to be sentenced in June for aggravated assault

Most Read