Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Access to the Gorge Waterway

Some people have access to the water
Not enough is being done to offer more and better locations for access to the water on the Gorge.   It is not easy to launch a canoe or kayak unless you drive to the locations set up for that.  There are numerous other locations that should be available for access to the Gorge.

1970s apartments on the water
The Gorge should be the focal heart of our neighbourhood but it is effectively more like the Berlin Wall than centre of the community.   There are some good spots where there is access to the Gorge.   Esquimalt Gorge Park and the walkway on the Saanich side are the better locations as is the park and beach at Craigflower park.

Closer to the harbour we have gained access at Selkirk, via the trestle and in the Railyards, but they remain the exceptions.  Of course there is also Banfield park, but there could be so much more.

We have about a dozen streets that end in cul de sacs at the water but we have little or no access to the water at these locations.  I did a quick drive and looked at a few spots today.

Harriet Road
Looking at water from the end
Harriet Road
Harriet as seen from Arm Street
The end of Harriet Road is located right above the Gorge and the crazy part is that the land between the end of the road and the waterway is already public property and could be a park.   There is a little of a space at the end of the street and a single bench, but there is no access to the water.   It is moderately steep but not unreasonably so and not for a long distance.

Some of the blackberries
at Harriet Road
There is no sign telling you the spot is there and it is heavily overgrown with blackberries.  We have lost a lot of public space to these plants and we need to start seeing some local government take action and pull them out.

It would not take much to make a path down to the water on which you could carry a canoe or kayak to the water.  I would also offer another location you could swim in the Gorge.





Arm Street Park
This is the empty field on the cul de sac
Path to the water
Arm Street is directly across the water from Harriet Road and it is a decent sized park.

There is an empty lawn/field at the end of the cul de sac.   All the site does at the moment is require mowing by the City.

Arm Street Wharf
A nice path leads you down a look out and they down to a decent sized concrete wharf.  There is no sign telling what is down there or that the park is there at all.  Once one is down at the water, there is no way to access it from wharf area as there is a fence around.   You could even have this as a stop for the Habour Ferries.

The park even has a path you could wheel a canoe down on.

Decosta Place and Burlieth Crescent
End of Decosta - this is a park
Burlieth Crescent Park
In theory these two locations have park to access the water, but there is no sign to indicate it is public access to the water and there seems to be little or no attempt to make them places where people would want to try and access the water.

If there the local governments are going to the trouble of making these parks, put a few dollars into them and make them useful.  Both of them could be made to have decent water access for the public

Gorge Park
Aaron Point in Gorge Park
  This is a decent sized park near Tillicum and Gorge but from the street you can not see anything of the park.   There is some decent access to the water and there is this nice dock close to the reversing waterfall.   This is a stop for the Harbour Ferry and makes for a great place to swim, but it is underused.   The access to the water in most of the park is limited and the brush in the park makes the seeing the water hard to do.

Few people know that Aaron point is part of the park.

In the past this was a major gathering point for people in the whole region and was the main swimming location

Washington Street
There is a nice little park at the end of Washington, but it has not access to the water even though it borders the Gorge for 140 metres.   This park should be connected to the Galloping Goose and would only need a 150 metre trail to do that.

End of Washington Street, Selkirk is across the water
 At the very end of Washington there is a perfect location to access the water easily and launch a boat.   You make some parking available in the park and you offer a nice ramp into the water and then we have more access.

Nearby there is the Gorge Road hospital, there is no attempt by the hospital to make access to the water available to the public.  There is 175 metres of waterfront at the hospital

100 years ago the Gorge Waterway as the heart of the city, it should be so again in the future
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