Absorbent Soil for Rainwater Management – Lessons Learned in the City of Courtenay


Comox4 - a subdivision from the air

Capturing Rain Where It Falls

The projected growth of Vancouver Island and resulting cumulative impacts are drivers for reassessing where and how land is developed, and water is used. To promote a new way-of-thinking related to infrastructure policies and practices, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island (CAVI) organized Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation on Vancouver Island: The 2007 Series.

Courtenay’s Soil Depth Policy

The City of Courtenay’s Soil Depth Policy was one of four case studies featured as part of Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in the Comox Valley in October 2007. The event was co-hosted by the Comox Strathcona Reglonal District and the City of Courtenay. The theme for the event was ‘Connecting to Sustainability’.

The City of Courtenay was the first BC municipality to adopt a policy requiring developers to provide a minimum soil depth on building sites as a rainwater management tool. The policy was adopted in January 2004 immediately after the City became a founding member of the Inter-Governmental Partnership that developed the Water Balance Model for British Columbia.

Kevin Lagan (120p)“The Official Community Plan states that a minimum depth of 300mm of topsoil or amended organic soil will be provided on all landscaped areas. The required depth is increased to 450mm for shrubs, and is 300mm around and below the root ball of all trees of a property. Soil depth is a requirement in all new subdivisions,” reports Kevin Lagan, the City’s Director of Operational Services.

Sharing & Learning from Other Jurisdictions

Richard boase demo - how wate moves thru soil“A defining moment for me for was the soil-water demonstration that Richard Boase of North Vancouver District did at the December 2003 training workshop for Water Balance Model partners,” continues Kevin Lagan. “The infiltration process sounds complex when you use words to describe it. But when you observe how water moves through a soil profile, it is a powerful learning tool.”

The On-the-Ground Challenge

Sandy Pridmore, City of CourtenayAccording to Sandy Pridmore, Engineering Technologist with the City of Courtenay, “The challenge for the City is in how to ensure that developers and house builders fulfil their obligations to provide and preserve the minimum required depth. This will be the focus of my presentation.”

To download a copy of Sandy’s PowerPoint presentation, please click on this link to Absorbent Soils For Rainwater Management and Achieving Compliance To Meet Green Infrastructure Goals .


Posted October 2007