City of North Vancouver leads by example in Metro Vancouver region – implements rain garden program



Regulatory Context for Rainwater Management in Metro Vancouver

In 2001, Metro Vancouver and its member municipalities recognized the benefits of a watershed-based approach to integrating drainage, ecology and land use planning. Watersheds were acknowledged as a fundamental and natural management level for the protection and use of water. Stormwater was recognized as a resource, as was the need to protect small fish-bearing streams.

The region made a commitment to the Province to have watershed-based plans in place by 2014. This commitment is a requirement in the region’s Integrated Liquid Waste & Resource Management Plan, approved by the Minister of Environment in May 2011.

City of North Vancouver’s “One Water” Approach

“Through the development of our watershed management plan, known to some by the acronym ISMP, the City will be making a strong commitment to rainwater management. The ISMP will direct how we will do new developments in the City,” states Peter Peter-Navratil_CNV_2014_trimmed_120pNavratil, Deputy City Engineer.

Peter Navratil is also overseeing development of the City’s water conservation strategy. “Our communication strategy needed to take a ‘One water approach – from watershed to receiving water.’ By looking at it this way, all aspects of water use are considered.”

An Overview of the Current Rain Garden Program

“The City is well-positioned to fulfil regulatory objectives related to rainwater management. This means protect and restore hydrologic function. In turn, this maintains the three pathways by which rain reaches streams, namely: surface runoff, horizontal Kim-Stephens1_July2014_DSC_0666_120pflow in shallow soils, and deep groundwater,” observes Kim Stephens, Executive Director with the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

Kim Stephens is the author of Rainwater Management & Rain Gardens: Creating the Future in the City of North Vancouver, the third in the Watershed Case Profile Series to be released by the Partnership.

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Development Requirements

“Rain gardens installed within bumpouts are already a standard requirement of all developments,” continues Peter Navratil. “Within our own budgets, all of our major transportation or greenway projects include the provision of rain gardens, and landscaping within the bumpouts.”

“The benefits go well beyond rainwater management, addressing safer pedestrian movements and aesthetically pleasing streets.”

“Simply put, an enhanced streetscape is a requirement for re-development. Thus, the Silva Cell modular suspended pavement system is now the standard for street trees. This system gives more room for a tree to grow. Over time, this enhances the tree canopy for rainfall interception.”

What the City Has Learned

“Once you get started with any new process, you get feedback that generates ‘collisions of ideas’. The processes get better and the products become stronger. And that is what we are seeing in the City. Push-back from developers declined once they saw what a rain garden looked like for the first time. From all perspectives, it gets easier and easier with each successive installation,” concludes Peter Navratil.

To Learn More:

To read the complete story, click on Rainwater Management & Rain Gardens: Creating the Future in the City of North Vancouver to download a PDF copy of a Watershed Case Profile released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in October 2014.

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