Citywide Integrated Rainwater Management Plan

Creekway image © Nick Page

The City has developed an integrated rainwater management plan that will:

  1. Treat Vancouver’s abundant rainwater as a resource
  2. Reduce the demand for potable water by encouraging beneficial reuse
  3. Restore the role of urban watersheds to support urban and natural ecosystems and provide clean water

The citywide plan will move towards best practices in water management.

Related initiatives

Contact the project team

Recent developments with this plan

Council supports plan to capture and treat most rainfall to improve river and harbour water quality

April 2016 – We presented the outcomes of the Citywide Integrated Rainwater Management Plan (IRMP) to City Council at the April 19 meeting. The IRMP provides a long-term Green Infrastructure Strategy to protect and improve water quality in the waterbodies surrounding Vancouver.

Council supported the IRMP target to capture and treat 90% of Vancouver’s average annual rainfall by implementing green infrastructure tools and design guidelines on public and private property throughout the City.

Council also supported the creation of a green infrastructure team to develop an implementation plan with interim targets and milestones toward the long-term target.

Implementing green infrastructure will improve water quality to protect the environment, support recreational water use, and meet current and emerging regulatory requirements.

For more information refer to:

Stakeholder workshops

January 2016 – At this workshop with stakeholders, we presented and reviewed the draft Integrated Rainwater Management Plan. Since the document was mostly complete, discussion focused on fine-tuning elements for clarification and readability. We received great feedback that we incorporated into the final draft.

June 2014 – At this workshop, we sought input from stakeholders on:

  • Implementation (what happens first and how?)
  • Scenarios (what combination of tools should be applied to the various land uses and how aggressively do we want to manage our rainwater?)
  • Finance and incentives (how will we pay for this?)
  • Selection criteria (how do we balance these considerations?)

May 2014 – At this workshop we discussed the scope, process and purpose of the integrated rainwater management plan. It will also provide organizations with an interest in rainwater management with an opportunity to contribute to the vision and values that will help select a rainwater strategy.

Participants learned about current rainwater best practices, and discussed their own experiences and what the integrated rainwater management plan can realistically achieve. The objective of this workshop was to identify issues and gauge values in preparation for the subsequent stakeholder strategy workshops.

Comprehensive background review and analysis

April 2014  The consulting team completed a comprehensive review of background documents, current stormwater management framework, and an analysis of existing impervious conditions.

Information gathered during this phase will be used to inform subsequent phases related to implementation and monitoring.

Joint workshop

March 2014  A workshop was held to bring together three key groups for an interactive session with a focus on what’s existing in the city today:

  • Rainwater collaboration team: key City steering committee members
  • Technical advisory group: staff representatives of City of Vancouver departments
  • Intergovernmental expert group: representatives of senior government and institutions

The workshop was an opportunity to exchange current information and ideas towards innovative and practical rainwater management improvements as part of the Greenest City Action Plan.

Technical advisory group workshop

December 2013  A workshop with a staff technical advisory group was held with the purpose of gathering input from a diverse range of City departments. Participants were asked to express their concerns and excitement about the integrated stormwater management plan process. In a second exercise, participants were asked to think about present assets, goals for the future, and means of achieving the goals.

Project initiation

November 2013  The new stormwater management plan project was kicked off with staff and consultants.

Visioning workshop summary

December, 2012  Prior to the consulting assignment being awarded, the City held a rainwater management visioning session.

What is an integrated stormwater management plan?

An integrated stormwater management plan is a comprehensive plan that uses an ecosystem approach to rainwater management.

It examines the range of factors that influence stormwater in the City – everything from trees and landscapes, to public infrastructure in the streets, to how buildings are designed to the City’s own maintenance practices. 

Vancouver's integrated stormwater management plan will also respond to requirements set by Metro Vancouver’s Integrated Liquid Waste and Resource Management Plan to undertake and implement a plan to manage and control stormwater runoff, and protect the watershed.

How we are creating the plan

We are talking to City staff, organizations with an interest in rainwater management, and the public to gather opinions and feedback. With this feedback in hand and the technical know-how of our consultant team, the City will prepare a plan that is technically sound and implementable.

The plan follows a systems approach and embraces the ecological principles of rainwater and stormwater management. The plan will provide a toolbox of storm water management techniques categorized by the appropriate land use, neighbourhood location, or project type where they are most relevant. 

Project timeline


Phase Timeline 
1: What do we want? October to December, 2013
2: What do we have? January to April, 2014 
3. How do we get there? May to December, 2014 
4. How do we stay on track? May to December, 2014 

Key dates


Date  Event 
November, 2013 Project initiation 
December 5, 2013 Technical advisory group (staff) workshop #1 
March 13, 2013 Technical advisory group and intergovernmental expert panel joint workshop #2
May 2014 Stakeholder introductory workshop 
June 2014 Technical advisory group workshop #3 
June 18, 2014 Stakeholder strategic options workshop
June - September, 2014  Review period 
September 2014 Public consultation 
October 2014 Final draft submitted 
December 2014 Project completion - final report submitted 

The role of infiltration in managing stormwater

When rainwater is allowed to seep into the ground, it is called infiltration. Infiltration filters pollutants from stormwater and reduces the load on storm sewers.

Most importantly, infiltration recharges natural water systems, which help support fish habitat by more closely mimicking natural processes.

Cleaner creeks, healthier water tables, and a more natural aesthetic also make neighbourhoods more enjoyable places for playing, walking and cycling.

What the City has done so far

Alternative pavements are materials that let water pass through to the ground so the water can infiltrate while maintaining a surface for vehicles and other types of traffic. Alternative pavements range from different kinds of asphalt to grass that has been reinforced.

Rain gardens or grassed areas where water can collect and infiltrate are already built in several areas around the city, usually with curb bulges. Curb bulges are the bumps in the curb, usually at intersections, that make crossing the street safer. 

New large buildings are required to manage stormwater as a resource and improve stormwater quality before it goes into the storm sewer. Some of the ways new buildings are managing stormwater are enhanced landscaping, green roofs, and rainwater tanks that collect rainwater for flushing toilets or watering gardens and lawns.

Learn about the City's water and sewer system