Restoring streams

Vancouver was once a temperate rainforest with a vast network of natural streams and creeks. As the city developed and grew, many streams were directed into pipes, filled in, or diverted to manage rainwater and wastewater.

Drainage and water management thinking has changed over time and we have a better understanding of how to integrate our rainwater, groundwater, and pipe network in a more naturalized way.

Daylighting opens up lost streams to a more natural state out of a pipe. It is one of the solutions we are using to better use natural infrastructure, like streams, while restoring the valuable ecosystem services they provide.

Benefits of stream restoration

Daylighting streams and creeks provide many benefits, including:

  • Creating a sense of place and connection
  • Providing a community amenity and educational tool for stream and environmental stewardship 
  • Enhancing our natural environment, improving air quality, and cooling temperatures
  • Providing important habitat for birds, small mammals, amphibians, fish, and other wildlife
  • Increasing tree canopy and native plant species 
  • Capturing carbon through plants and storing it in the soil
  • Providing a pathway for the drainage of rainwater

We live in a dense urban environment, so daylighting streams is not possible everywhere due to underground utilities and conflicting land uses.

Where we can daylight, we will not always be able to restore streams to their pre-development state. As such, stream restoration work is influenced by the context of the urbanized watershed.

Current restoration projects

Still Creek Enhancement

Still Creek is one of the few remaining visible streams in Vancouver. Since 2002, we have been daylighting and restoring sections of the creek.

Tatlow and Volunteer Park stream

We are restoring the historical stream in Volunteer and Tatlow parks and the English Bay shoreline.

Canyon Creek

We are restoring downstream portions of Canyon Creek in Spanish Banks Beach Park.

Report a spill or leak

Call 3-1-1 to report a spill or leak of oil, chemicals or paint:

  • Into the ocean, or a creek, lake, stream or pond
  • On the road
  • Entering a sewer or storm drain

They will need your name and daytime phone number, in case further information is needed.

Learn more about water management

Keeping catch basins clear prevents street flooding and trash from washing into local waterways. Find out how you can adopt your own catch basin

Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) limit public access to water and impact aquatic environments. Learn about Vancouver’s plan to eliminate CSOs through the Healthy Waters Plan.

Green rainwater infrastructure is another type of natural infrastructure that protects water quality and brings nature into the city.