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Thu December 07 2023

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Vancouver launches strategy to manage rainwater

6 Nov 19 Vancouver City Council has voted to introduce a new strategy that will use a range of infrastructure measures to manage rainwater.

The Rain City Strategy goals will be achieved primarily through the expansion of green rainwater infrastructure to absorb and clean rainwater.

The strategy outlines a series of actions to improve water quality in the natural environment, increase the resilience to climate change, and to enhance natural ecosystems in the city. The aim is to help prevent pollutants from being washed into waterways and divert water from the pipe system, allowing it to be harvested for reuse or returned to the ground and atmosphere.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart said: “As residents of a coastal city in a temperate rainforest we have a deep connection to water in all its forms. However, as we grapple with climate change and Vancouver continues to grow in the decades to come, charting a new course for the way we manage rainwater will be vital.”

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Vancouver currently has over 240 green rainwater infrastructure assets in its streets and many more in parks and other public spaces throughout the city. Examples include:

  • A public plaza at West 63rd Avenue and Yukon Street that uses a rain garden and a bioswale to manage urban rainwater runoff from adjacent streets. The plaza captures, retains and treats urban rainwater runoff from more than 1,170m2 of surrounding roads and sidewalks.
  • Along the new separated bike lane at Quebec and East 1st Avenue, urban rainwater runoff from the surrounding pavement is directed into underground trenches and bioswales for treatment, infiltration and uptake by plants and street trees.
  • A recently-installed demonstration project at 10th Avenue and Yukon below City Hall is designed to help achieve a better understand the benefits of rainwater capture on four types of roofs.
  • A rainwater management feature in Hinge park manages two thirds of the street rainwater runoff from the Olympic Village neighbourhood while providing a rich habitat and biodiversity within the park. Polluted urban rainwater runoff is filtered through the plants and ecology in the wetland to clean it before being discharged in to False Creek.

Another key Rain City Strategy goal is to achieve better management of water accumulation during extreme rainfall to reduce flooding and improve water quality, moving toward the City’s overall goal of capturing and treating 90% of Vancouver’s average annual rainfall.

The strategy also sets new design standards for green rainwater infrastructure practices, doubling the minimum volume of rainwater managed through green rainwater infrastructure from 24mm per day to 48mm per day and establishing a target to manage rainwater volume and water quality for 40% of Vancouver’s impervious areas by 2050.

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