Engaging the Community to Build Flood Resistant Rain Gardens

The Context:

The focus of the project is to mobilize the community to learn about why and how rain gardens work to build flood resilience in residential, neighbourhood and community scales. The project proposed here is a pilot that will inform a bigger initiative involving the three North Shore municipalities. The demonstration project would engage local citizens, local government, NGOs, university researchers and students in shared learning about the role of rain gardens in improving water quality and managing storm water.

Why rain gardens?

There are several ways that individual home owners, residents in multi-family buildings and even neighbourhoods can reduce and manage storm water runoff while ensuring proper drainage. A relatively easy and attractive method is a rain garden that is created by making a shallow depression of the garden. The garden uses specific kinds of plant and soil materials that holds the water and thereby allowing it to slowly infiltrate back into the soil as the plants, mulch and soil naturally remove pollutants from the runoff. A rain garden captures water from impervious surfaces such as rooftops, sidewalks, driveways and patios thus easing pressure on municipal storm-water systems. Along with the water are harmful substances such as road salt, heavy metals and oils, that unfiltered, end up in streams, lakes or other water bodies, where they impact water quality and damage aquatic habitat. 

Most recently in Metro Vancouver, including the North Shore municipalities, there have been a significant number of water surges as a result of heavy rains and storms that have resulted in the flooding of homes and public spaces; causing damage to property and to the local stormwater infrastructure. There is a clear need for greater action not just by municipalities but by citizens as well to “shore up” green infrastructure.

Why Citizen Engagement?

This project aims to mobilize the knowledge available about rain gardens, water flows and how to manage residential flooding and have citizens become aware of the benefits of rain gardens, learn how to access information and resources that will assist them in designing and constructing rain gardens, and to engage with other citizens to learn and participate in the planning, installation and maintenance of these green infrastructure resources.

Project Partners:

  • Cool North Shore
  • North Shore and West Vancouver Streamkeepers
  • Fraser Basin Council
  • The Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC (PWSBC)
  • The City of North Vancouver
  • The District of North Vancouver
  • The District of West Vancouver