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Rendering of green rainwater infrastructure

Council adopts new city-wide strategy for managing rainwater

As residents of a coastal city in a temperate rainforest we have a deep connection to water in all its forms.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart

November 5 2019 –

Vancouver City Council voted today to adopt the Rain City Strategy, which reimagines how we manage rainwater using green rainwater infrastructure.

“As residents of a coastal city in a temperate rainforest we have a deep connection to water in all its forms,” says Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “However, as we grapple with climate change and Vancouver continues to grow in the decades to come, charting a new course for the way we manage rainwater will be vital.” 

The Rain City Strategy outlines a series of actions to improve water quality in our natural environment, increase the resilience to climate change, and to enhance natural ecosystems in the city.

These goals will be achieved primarily through the expansion of green rainwater infrastructure to absorb and clean rainwater. These help prevent pollutants from being washed into our waterways and divert water from our pipe system, allowing it to be harvested for re-use or returned to the ground and atmosphere. 

Green rainwater infrastructure

Vancouver currently has over 240 green rainwater infrastructure assets in its streets and many more in parks and other public spaces throughout the city. Examples of green rainwater infrastructure include: 

63rd and Yukon

This public plaza at West 63rd Avenue and Yukon Street uses a rain garden and a bioswale, to manage urban rainwater runoff from adjacent streets. The plaza captures, retains and treats urban rainwater runoff from more than 1,170 square meters of surrounding roads and sidewalks. 

Quebec and 1st Ave

Along the new separated bike lane at Quebec and East 1st Avenue, urban rainwater runoff from the surrounding pavement is directed into underground trenches and bioswales for treatment, infiltration and uptake by plants and street trees.

Blue-green roof pilot at Helena Gutteridge Plaza at City Hall 

This recently-installed demonstration project at 10th Avenue and Yukon below City Hall is designed to help us better understand the benefits of rainwater capture on four types of roofs: conventional, green, blue and blue-green. 

Wetland at Hinge Park in Southeast False Creek

This rainwater management feature in Hinge park manages 2/3 of the street rainwater runoff from the Olympic Village neighbourhood while providing rich habitat and biodiversity within the park. Polluted urban rainwater runoff is filtered through the plants and ecology in the wetland to clean it before being discharged in to False Creek.

Rain City Strategy goals

Another key Rain City Strategy goal is to better manage water accumulation during extreme rainfall to reduce flooding and improve water quality, moving toward the City’s overall goal of capturing and treating 90% of Vancouver’s average annual rainfall. 

The strategy also sets new design standards for green rainwater infrastructure practices, doubling the minimum volume of rainwater managed through green rainwater infrastructure from 24mm per day to 48mm per day and establishing a target to manage rainwater volume and water quality for 40% of Vancouver’s impervious areas by 2050.

The Rain City Strategy supports Vancouver’s new One Water approach