Gorge all cleaned up for Sunday’s Swim Fest

More than 500 people are expected to take a dip Sunday at Banfield Park for the eighth annual Gorge Swim Fest.

The event celebrates the fact that the Gorge is clean after decades of pollution that left the waterway unsuitable for swimming.

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“It’s the cleanest, warmest and closest open water swimming hole in Victoria,” said Jack Meredith, president of the Gorge Swim Fest Society, who has been swimming in the Gorge almost daily during summer since 2010.

“Once a year, we want to celebrate that and raise awareness that the Gorge is clean and we should keep it that way.”

The festival, which runs from noon till 4 p.m., also features live music and food trucks.

In 2017, the event was cancelled as a precaution when someone reported an odour from a creek under Craigflower Road that feeds into the Gorge Waterway. Test results eventually showed that the contamination never reached the Gorge, Meredith said.

Island Health measures the water quality at busy public beaches from mid-May until Labour Day. Meredith said the water at Banfield Park Dock received a clean bill of health on Friday, although the health authority lists no results available for the site.

Results from nearby Esquimalt Gorge Park show no issues with water quality.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

• For more information, go to gorgeswimfest.ca

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