Watershed Case Profile Series: Rainwater Management and Rain Gardens in the City of North Vancouver
Note to Reader:
The City of North Vancouver story is the third in a series of Watershed Blueprint Case Profiles published by the Partnership for Water Sustainability. The purpose of the series is to inform and facilitate inter-regional collaboration in the Georgia Basin. By telling the stories of those who are spearheading changes in practice, this helps other local governments eliminate the “disconnect between information and implementation” that may otherwise hold them back.
To download a copy of the Watershed Case Profile, click on Rainwater Management & Rain Gardens: Creating the Future in the City of North Vancouver.
Restoring Stream Health Requires a Long-Term Commitment
Compact and fully urbanized, the City of North Vancouver is a community of 48,000 people that is undergoing redevelopment to higher density land use. It is a case study illustration of how a “design with nature” ethic has taken root in local government in British Columbia.
More than a decade ago, the City embraced a vision for building rain gardens on public and private lands. The City’s goals are to enhance the City’s streetscapes, restore the health of watercourses, and fulfil regulatory objectives for rainwater management.
“Redevelopment creates opportunities to build a greener community, live water smart and adapt to a changing climate,” observes Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia. “The City’s rain garden program embodies those three objectives. It symbolizes a commitment to making a difference over the long-term. A desired outcome is to protect and restore the health of the City’s natural watercourses.”
Why the City has a Rain Garden Program
“About a decade ago, Tony Barber brought forward the vision for building rain gardens and enhancing the City’s streetscapes. He was the staff champion whose passion and commitment made the rain garden program a reality. This is part of his personal and professional legacy,” states Mayor Darrell Mussatto.
“An engineer, Tony understood the relationship between the hardening of the urban landscape and the consequences for the City’s small streams, in particular the loss of salmon.”
“Tony Barber generated action. He successfully made the case that there had to be a better way. He initiated changes in the City’s design practices.”
“Rain gardens minimize the impact of the built environment on the City’s small streams. But this is just part of the part of the picture,” stated Tony Barber in a 2008 story posted on the waterbucket.ca website. “The rain gardens also help to sustain the adjacent street trees and make the streetscape a more comfortable and attractive environment for walking. Studies have shown that appealing streetscapes also improve the viability of adjacent businesses.”
Design with Nature to Create an Interface
“Rain gardens are a form of urban green infrastructure,” states Doug Pope, City Engineer. “In this context, the City’s vision is that we can enhance and elaborate the interface between urban and natural states. For more than a decade, the City has been demonstrating how to do this.”
“The City is prepared to take a chance in doing business differently. Yes, there will be growing pains and sometimes there will be mistakes. Yet, this is what leads to innovation and efficiencies.”
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 the Watershed Case Profile.