Rainy weather and cars stuck in traffic

City activates Departmental Operations Centre for anticipated heavy rainfall

December 12 2018 –

With heavy rain forecasted by Environment Canada, the City will activate the Departmental Operations Centre (DOC) this afternoon to respond to possible flooding.

Heavy rain falls can overwhelm drainage systems, leading to flooding, particularly in low lying areas. The Departmental Operations Centre brings together crews from their normal duties, such as waste collection or construction, to deal with flash flooding.

Throughout the fall season, the City does ongoing street sweeping and provides additional leaf pickup days to help clear away leaves. Prior to heavy rain, the City proactively clears catch basins known to be prone to flooding. Additionally, the City works with a meteorologist for Vancouver-specific weather predictions and keeps staff on hand 24 hours a day to respond to weather incidents. 

How residents can help during heavy rainfall

  • Use VanConnect: Reporting non-emergency flooding on City streets and sidewalks, fallen tree branches or other issues via the VanConnect app helps to inform the City’s operational response. Download the City’s Vanconnect mobile app. If there is an immediate safety issue please call 3-1-1.
  • Clear a catch basin: We thank residents who take the time to clear catch basins near their property. In many cases, flooding is caused by leaves which can be quickly and safely removed, allowing City crews to deal with more severe instances of flooding. 
  • Travel safe: Drive for the conditions and watch for people travelling on foot or by bicycle. 
  • Report downed power lines: Report downed power lines to 911 and BC Hydro: 1-888-POWER-ON. 
  • Check your basement: For residents who live in homes with basements, you may want to check your backflow valve or sump pump. 
  • Know your obligations: Raking or blowing leaves into the street is a finable offence up to $10,000. Learn more about how the City supports leaf cleaning.

Planning for long-term changes in climate

Our goal is to capture and treat 90% of Vancouver’s average annual rainfall. 

To help us achieve that, we are creating a Rain City Strategy. The strategy will outline how rain water management and green infrastructure tools can best be implemented on public and private property throughout the City to help us adapt to more intense rainfall events and dry periods expected with climate change.

Rainwater features include:

  • Raingardens
  • Green roofs
  • Absorbent landscaping
  • Rain friendly pavers

You have likely seen these features throughout the City already.

Creating this strategy is allowing us to reimagine the role of rainwater in the city as a resource that both serves and shapes our communities and natural systems. It will also enhance resiliency, livability, water quality, and reduce flooding by better managing the water accumulation during extreme rain fall. 

Adopt a catch basin

Since launching in October 2018, over 2,200 catch basins have been adopted throughout the City.

This simple program is a low-barrier volunteer opportunity that is popular with families and residents looking for flexible opportunities to connect with their neighbours and neighbourhood.

With over 45,000 catch basins in Vancouver, the help from residents makes a big difference when a catch basin is cleared of leaves or snow, and it can dramatically reduce flooding.