Green roof on the Vancouver Convention Centre

Green rainwater infrastructure: sustainably managing our rainwater

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.

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.

Learn more about green rainwater infrastructure and how it will benefit us.

Rain City Strategy approved

On November 5, 2019, City Council unanimously approved an ambitious green rainwater infrastructure and urban rainwater management initiative called the Rain City Strategy.

The strategy and its action plans reimagine how we can manage rainwater, representing a significant opportunity to take bold strides toward becoming a water-sensitive city.

Through the strategy, the City of Vancouver has adopted a new performance target and design standard:

  • Performance target: to capture and clean a minimum of 90% of Vancouver’s average annual 
  • Design standard: capture and clean rainwater from a minimum of the first 48 mm of rainfall per day

For more details see Chapter 6 of the Rain City Strategy.

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.

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

What is green rainwater infrastructure

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


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!


Learn about projects around the city using green rainwater infrastructure.

Blue green systems

Blue green systems are networks of corridors that manage water, contribute to the urban forest, and enhance active transportation routes.

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