Engaging the community to build flood resistant rain gardens

Many municipalities are using rain gardens as part of their green infrastructure development, however they do not involve the community in any aspect of their design, location selection or construction and are thus missing an important opportunity to inform and engage the public in stewarding this remarkable green technology. This project is unique in its focus on engaging and empowering the community in a "hands on" learning experience that is aimed at building their capacity to proactively contribute to rainwater management and community stewardship and in doing so, become "flood resistant and water resilient."

The goal of this project is to empower communities to address the impacts of flooding on ecosystems, property and storm water systems. To achieve this goal, we will use a collective impact framework to implement an integrated cross-sector strategy that will engage and support residents in understanding and undertaking relevant rain water management activities, and foster long term behaviour change. 

This project will mobilize technical and ecological knowledge of rain gardens so that citizens, elementary and secondary school students, stewardship groups, and governments are aware of the benefits of rain gardens, learn how to access information and resources to assist in their design and construction, and engage with others in planning, installation and maintenance of these green infrastructure resources. It will use the ‘Water Balance Express for Landowners’ tool to connect desired watershed outcomes with what individuals do on their properties, and to measure the before and after conditions of water flow and quality.

The project will establish three demonstration rain gardens in prominent public spaces on Vancouver’s North Shore. It will develop a guide to community and school participation and local resources, and contractors trained in the construction of rain gardens, as well as conduct workshops for residents, professional landscapers and related contractors, and municipal staff to develop best practices in rain garden construction. The project will also develop policy recommendations for municipal incentives and standards to motivate and support residents in creating rain gardens on their properties and in public areas.

This is particularly relevant for the North Shore, where three municipalities, the City of North Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver, and the District of West Vancouver, are situated between Burrard Inlet and the steep southern slopes of the North Shore Mountains. The North Shore’s high levels of rainfall and runoff from the mountains’ deep snowpack feed a large system of rivers, creeks and streams, many of which are salmon bearing. But the rain and snowmelt also contribute to significant flooding when the urbanized landscape does not provide adequate permeable surfaces for water absorption.


North Shore Rain Garden Project: The Rain Garden Walking Tour

Guide to North Shore Rain Gardens: June, 2018

Rain gardens are a form of green stormwater infrastructure: they come in many forms and they all help to reduce negative stormwater impacts to urban watersheds such as poor water quality and flooding. Visit some of the North Shore rain gardens with this handy guide!

Developing a Landscape of Green Infrastructure in a Changing Climate

Friday, February 9, 2018 | 9:30AM - 2:00PM

The workshop will aim to integrate understanding of green infrastructure, ecological restoration, urban planning, landscape architecture, government planning and action, and climate change resilience. The workshop calls upon a panel of experts to speak to each section, followed by a roundtable, and summary by the panel speakers. It will approach these concepts in a top-down framework by moving through the current green infrastructure landscape with a number of guest lecturers. A full workshop itinerary as well as a summary report from the workshop are now available!

Imagine 12,000 Rain Gardens on Vancouver's North Shore

June 27, 2017

Simon Fraser University's Faculty of Environment's Pacific Water Research Centre and partners are inviting you to learn about an exciting rain garden initiative in Puget Sound and explore what it would take to build 12,000 rain gardens on the North Shore.

An effective blend of regionally coordinated but locally driven efforts, the 12,000 Rain Gardens in Puget Sound campaign has played a major role in taking the rain garden concept from obscure to commonplace and from outlier to mainstream in terms of stormwater management strategies. With representatives from the City of North Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver and the District of West Vancouver, we will talk about what it would take to engage our citizens in such an initiative here on the North Shore.


Resource library

Background information

Waterwise Gardening: A Guide for Bristish Columbia’s Lower Mainland

Why Are Stormwater Rain Gardens Still Landscaping Curiosities?

Rain City: Vancouver Puts New Focus on Rainwater Management

Ten Things You Can Do At Home To Reduce Stormwater Runoff

Rain garden building information

Rain Garden Handbook (for Western Washington) – A Guide for Design, Installation, and Maintenance

Okanagan-Similkameen Rain Garden Guide Book

Top Ten Design Considerations for Rain Gardens – Kerr Wood Leidal

Stormwater Source Control Guidelines – MetroVancouver (2012)

Underground Stormwater Infiltration – Best Practices for Protection of Groundwater Resources in British Columbia

Some Successful Rain Garden Plants

Non-digital resources

Pasztor, Zsofia and Keri DeTore. 2017. Rain Gardens for the Pacific Northwest: design and build your own. Skipstone Books, Seattle, Washington.

Scientific research

Soil bioretention protects juvenile salmon and their prey from the toxic impacts of urban stormwater runoff

Landscape ecotoxicology of coho salmon spawner mortality in urban streams

Coho salmon spawner mortality in western US urban watersheds: bioinfiltration prevents lethal stormw water impacts

Water Management Through Rain Gardens: A Social, Environmental and Economic Analysis

Local success stories

Rain Gardens Help Restore Nature to Urban Delta

Showcasing Successful Green Stormwater Infrastructure – Lessons from Implementation

Creating the Future in The Corporation of Delta: Rain Gardens Help Restore Nature to Urban Areas

SteamTalk feature (page 6)





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