Green roof on the Vancouver Convention Centre

Green infrastructure: sustainably managing our rainwater

We have a target to capture and treat 90% of Vancouver’s average annual rainfall by using green 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 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 infrastructure and how it will benefit us.

Rain City Strategy

We are working on a strategy to:

  • Improve water quality
  • Enhance Vancouver’s resiliency and climate change adaptation
  • Use rainwater as a resource
  • Support neighbourhood livability and biodiversity

Learn more

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

What is green infrastructure

Green 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.


When rain falls on city surfaces like streets, sidewalks, and rooftops, it collects oil, litter, and other pollutants as it runs off city surfaces into our catch basins. This runoff ends up on our beaches and in our rivers and overwhelms our remaining combined sewer systems during heavy rainfall periods.

In a natural environment rainwater is absorbed and filtered by soils and plants. Over half (55%) of Vancouver is made up of city surfaces that cannot collect, absorb, or clean our rainwater.

Green infrastructure brings nature into the city, like trees and plants, to capture and clean our rain water before returning it to our atmosphere and our surrounding beaches and rivers.

Green infrastructure promotes sustainable urban rainwater management by slowing down and holding on to rainwater, allowing it to soak into the ground.

This helps reduce the volume of water entering our sewer system and prevents flooding. 

Green infrastructure uses rainwater as a resource for our communities and wildlife. It is key to our city’s resiliency and will help keep Vancouver healthy and safe as instances of drought, high temperatures, and intense rainstorms become increasingly frequent with climate change.

More greenspace increases the amount of rainwater that can be absorbed back into our atmosphere and helps cool our city during extreme heat events. 

It is important for us to support the growth of sustainable urban rainwater management practices now to ensure the longevity and health of our city. 

Learn more about our Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.

Green infrastructure reduces the volume of water entering our sewer system by returning water to the natural water cycle. 

This increases the lifespan of our sewers and helps save on costly infrastructure maintenance.

By promoting natural spaces, green infrastructure provides mental and physical health benefits for our communites and are inviting to wildlife and pollinators. 

Green infrastructure features

By City of Vancouver

View different types of green 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!

Find projects around the city


Learn about projects around the city using green infrastructure.

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Rain paint idea contestProjectsDocuments and policies63rd Avenue and Yukon Street boulevard improvementsMusqueam Integrated Stormwater Management PlanCitywide Integrated Rainwater Management PlanManaging the region's stormwater