Green roof on the Vancouver Convention Centre

Green rainwater infrastructure: sustainably managing our rainwater

What you need to know

Green rainwater infrastructure brings nature into the city, to capture and clean our rain water before returning it to our atmosphere and our surrounding oceans and rivers.

It mimics natural water processes, and works with plants, soils, trees, and built structures to capture and clean rainwater before returning it to our waterways and atmosphere.

We have a target to capture and treat 90% of Vancouver’s average annual rainfall by using green rainwater infrastructure tools and design guidelines on public and private property. 

In the natural environment, rain is absorbed and filtered by plants and soils. In cities, this natural water cycle is disrupted and rainwater flows across pavement and rooftops.

This water picks up pollutants which end up in our waterways causing negative impacts on water quality and wildlife.

Our vision: Vancouver’s rainwater is embraced as a valued resource for our communities and natural ecosystems

Benefits

Green rainwater infrastructure features

By City of Vancouver

View different types of green rainwater infrastructure around the city.

  • Green roofs

    By City of Vancouver

    These living roofs covered with plants and trees collect, absorb, and return rainwater to our atmosphere. Green roofs provide habitat for wildlife and pollinators.

  • Rain-friendly streets

    By City of Vancouver

    Porous pavement absorbs rainwater and soil cells store water and create space for tree roots to grow and absorb water beneath our sidewalks and traffic lanes.

  • Swales

    By City of Vancouver

    Swales are shallow channels alongside roads that use soils and plants to direct and slow water allowing it to absorb into the ground and atmosphere.

  • Rain garden

    By City of Vancouver

    These gardens are sunken into the ground and lined with native plants, grasses, trees, and stream beds that absorb and clean rainwater that runs off our streets and sidewalks.

  • Parks

    By City of Vancouver

    City parks are full of plants, trees, and flowers that soak up and clean our rainwater. They act like natural wetlands in our urban environment!

Resources and projects

Rainwater management on private property

Resources for homeowners and developers on rainwater management policies and requirements.

Design resources

Technical resources for the design and construction of green infrastructure on public property.

Policies and reports

Policies and reports on green infrastructure in the City of Vancouver: how it works, why we need it, and how we’re doing.

Projects

Find a project near you and learn more about our green infrastructure systems.

Get involved

Adopt a catch basin

Help prevent flooding in your neighbourhood, adopt a catch basin to care for.

Alberta St Blue Green System and Columbia Park Renewal

The Alberta St Blue Green System and Columbia Park Renewal will explore ways to address sewer and drainage needs of the growing Cambie Corridor.

Green Streets Program

Beautify traffic calming areas in your neighbourhood as a volunteer gardener.

Seeding Stewardship Program

Form a stewardship group that supports nature-based solutions such as rain gardens and wildflower meadows.

Looking for a past project or program?

Search archived content from vancouver.ca on Archive-it.

Search Archive-It

Watch these videos to learn more

Shaped by water

Several members of our engineering department toured the Netherlands to learn more about the green infrastructure and water technologies.

Vancouver's Rain City Strategy

We've has set a target to capture and treat 90% of Vancouver’s average annual rainfall by using green rainwater infrastructure tools.

Richards Green Complete Street Improvements

The project includes a new protected two-way bike lane and building the city’s first large scale blue-green system.