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EJ4Climate Project

Community Saltmarsh Restoration for Climate Resilience

Organization: Gorge Waterway Action Society
Mission: GWAS is an environmental charity based in the traditional territory of the Lekwungen-speaking peoples in Victoria, BC, that aims to enhance the Gorge through environmental education, restoration, and community involvement.

Location: The project will take place on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen Peoples, in Victoria, British Columbia. The saltmarsh restoration project site is located in Esquimalt Gorge Park, in the Township of Esquimalt. Communities benefiting directly from the project: The Gorge Waterway community, including residents of Victoria, Esquimalt, Saanich, and View Royal municipalities, and members of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, will be directly affected. Youth from the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations will particularly be affected, as Indigenous Nature Interpreters will be hired to help shape and enact the restoration project.

Country: Canada

Other Organizations Involved: This project is supported by the Township of Esquimalt, and specifically the Esquimalt Parks Department, as the saltmarsh restoration project site is located in Esquimalt Gorge Park. The Coastal Collaborative Sciences division of World Fisheries Trust (WFT), a locally-based charity dedicated to marine and aquatic research and education, will consult on the restoration design plan. The Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations will be consulted on the project and provide input on the future design and use of the restored saltmarsh habitat. Youth hired from the Nations in the roles of Indigenous Nature Interpreters will be involved in the project.

Active Saltmarsh Restoration @ Claire Marshall


Degradation of the Gorge Waterway by settlers has left residents and wildlife vulnerable to such climate impacts as flooding, and has contributed to the release of stored carbon, impacting the growing prevalence of extreme heat events. These impacts affect Indigenous and marginalized communities disproportionately. The Gorge is situated on the traditional territory of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, and despite being culturally significant to the Nations, the Gorge was converted into an industrial area by settlers, excluding the local peoples from using their lands and waters, while degrading important ecosystem services and crucial herring and salmon spawning habitat. The saltmarsh situated along the Gorge’s centre is a rare and critical habitat for migratory birds, marine species, and native plant species. Without restoration, this viable habitat could be damaged or lost through erosion, development, or the encroachment of invasive monoculture grass species.


The goals of the project are to increase the resilience of the urban environment surrounding the Gorge against climate impacts such as flooding, and to mitigate climate change impacts such as extreme precipitation and dangerous heat dome events, while also increasing native biodiversity. This adaptation and mitigation would be accomplished by creating a natural “greenshore” shoreline around the saltmarsh and by sequestering carbon, a significant store of which occurs in the sediments of saltmarshes and in seagrasses. Education and empowerment surrounding climate change challenges are also key goals of the project. 

Main activities

The project seeks to increase the volume and diversity of native species in the saltmarsh by designing an ecological restoration plan, removing invasive plant species, and planting native, brackish-tolerant species. The project will also increase our community’s capacity to take action on climate change, through community events, participating in restoration activities, reports, workshops, and webinars. For these events, activities, and resources, there will be an emphasis on inclusivity and accessibility. Key beneficiaries will be the residents of the Gorge and members of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.

Expected outcomes

The desired result of the project will be an increase in ecosystem function within the saltmarsh, including such services as buffering storm impacts, sequestering carbon, increased biodiversity, and providing critical habitat for migratory and native bird species, pollinators, fish and wildlife. Gorge community members will feel more aware, empowered, knowledgeable, and confident in their capacity to adapt and mitigate climate change impacts within their communities.