Gorge Swim Fest returns, a year after contamination concerns force cancellation


WATCH: A popular summer event returns to Victoria after contamination concerns forced a last-minute cancellation last year. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

Plunging into the Gorge Waterway is a quick way to beat the heat during the summertime.

“It’s really nice and refreshing,” said one girl in the water. “It’s definitely really nice for a hot summer day.”

Hundreds of people took part in the annual Gorge Swim Fest on Sunday.

“It’s the cleanest, it’s the warmest and it’s the closest place to swim,” explained Jack Meredith with the Gorge Swim Fest Society.

Last year, organizers were forced to cancel the event after sewage was discovered in an Esquimalt creek.

“Although there was that suspected pollution threat it never got into the Gorge,” Meredith said. “We aired on the side of caution and I’m glad we did.”

The source was later traced to improperly connected pipes at a nearby property.

While it may seem like a setback for an event meant to promote the cleanliness of the Gorge, Meredith says in some ways the incident helped to promote their message.

“It was in the news all summer,” Meredith explained. “I think the overall message that the Gorge is fragile got out. There were hundreds people that responded and said we want to protect the Gorge.”

Caleb Kennedy has been swimming in the waterway for 758 days in a row.

“They test the water every two weeks and it’s the cleanest water we have around,” Kennedy said.

Throughout the years, the Gorge did fall in disrepair along the shoreline but heroic clean-up efforts during the 90’s by volunteers helped to revitalize the area.

“Our job as a community and as council is to steward our natural assets for the future and for the long term,” said Mayor of Victoria Lisa Helps. “Keeping this Gorge Waterway pristine is a key priority.”

A commitment that is appreciated by people of all ages.

“The water was a little warm and kind of medium,” said one young swimmer attending the event.

Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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