A woman clearing leaves from a catch basin with a rake.

Adopt a Catch Basin this fall

Neighbourhood heroes help keep streets safe and ecosystems clean

I thought that adopting a catch basin was really interesting because we can all give back to the community in small ways and make an overall greater impact.

Hailey, high school student

October 14 2021 –

Fall and winter months bring heavy rain, snow, and falling leaves. Together with debris, all are ingredients for clogged catch basins, which can lead to flooded streets and trash washing into adjacent waterways. Our neighbourhoods benefit from a team of about 1,500 'adopters' who give their time and energy to keep neighbourhood catch basins clear as part of our annual Adopt-a-Catch-Basin program.

"I thought that adopting a catch basin was really interesting because we can all give back to the community in small ways and make an overall greater impact," says adopter and high school student, Hailey. "I've been participating in the program for about two years now and have adopted three catch basins."

About the program

Keeping catch basins clear prevents costly flood damage to properties, while making streets safer for drivers and pedestrians. It protects water quality for species like salmon, by reducing the amount of litter swept into their habitat, and adopters provide valuable support for hardworking City of Vancouver street crews.

"On average, we receive 1,200 calls a year from residents reporting surface flooding from blocked catch basins. In the context of climate change, we're seeing increasingly heavy precipitation events putting pressure on our drainage systems. We're very thankful to our adopters because they enable our operations to focus on larger maintenance and cleaning tasks," says Jimmy Zammar, Director of Urban Watersheds, Sewers and Drainage for the City of Vancouver.

"This year, we want to show our gratitude by inviting adopters and their families to two community events celebrating the program's fifth birthday. We also encourage others interested in the program to come out and celebrate."

The program is modelled on similar programs in Oakland and San Francisco. Vancouver adopters have surpassed their American counterparts with over 3,700 catch basins adopted to date.

Participants keep on eye on their adopted catch basins, particularly before heavy rains and when trees begin to shed leaves. If it is blocked, adopters clear the catch basin with a rake, broom, or shovel. The program is simple, but it provides a valuable service to the community and local ecosystems.

Join us

Vancouver residents and their families are invited to two neighborhood catch basin clean-ups that will include treats and hot chocolate:

  • Kitsilano Community Centre on Saturday, October 23, 10am
  • Hastings Community Centre on Saturday, November 6, 10am 

To attend, RSVP to adoptacatchbasin@vancouver.ca.

Get involved

We have about 41,000 catch basins available for adoption. Adopting a catch basin is a safe, simple way to give back and get children involved in community and environmental stewardship. Adopters can also get creative by naming their catch basins. Look for an available catch basin in your neighborhood or on your daily commute at adoptacatchbasin.ca.

Safety guidelines

  • Do not use your hands to move leaves or debris blocking the catch basins
  • Use a long-handled rake, broom, or shovel to clear away materials
  • Stay visible with bright clothing or a safety vest when clearing your catch basin
  • Report hazardous materials
  • Do not attempt to move or pick up hazardous materials like needles, broken glass, or deceased wildlife
  • Report hazardous materials online using VanConnect or call 3-1-1
  • Report discarded needles to The Mobile Needle Exchange at 604-657-6561

Watch for traffic

  • Be aware of traffic and keep out of the street whenever possible
  • Make sure that you only cross the street at designated crossing areas and avoid crossing mid-block
  • Keep COVID-19 measures in mind
  • Maintain physical distance from other sidewalk and road users
  • Consider wearing a mask while clearing your catch basin