Umbrella Stormwater Bulletin 46
20 July 2016
Published by Green Communities Canada

Growth-plan review backs green infrastructure

By Clifford Maynes, Executive Director, Green Communities Canada
Photo: Swale on yale by Seattle Public Utilities

Following a recent review of regional land use plans, the Ontario government is proposing changes that could dramatically impact the way water is managed on the landscape.

According to the government’s summary, Shaping Land-Use in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, “Under proposed new policies in the Growth Plan, Greenbelt Plan and Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, municipalities would be required to develop plans for managing stormwater in their settlement areas. These plans would incorporate low-impact development techniques (which manage rainfall at the source) and green infrastructure.”

The summary says the changes would: “Encourage the use of green infrastructure and require low-impact development techniques that include integrating green space in design strategies, landscaping with native plants, and using natural water systems to generate less runoff from developed land.” 

Municipalities will be required to undertake “more comprehensive stormwater management planning.”

Watershed planning will be required across the Greater Golden Horseshoe Areas, using a “one water” approach. Direction will be provided on: “watershed-based integrated water, wastewater, and stormwater master planning.”
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RAIN Garden Groundbreakers Project launched in Kingston. Red Squirrel Conservation, Green Communities Canada, City of Kingston and Kingscourt Community Association officially launched their new RAIN Garden Groundbreakers partnership that will engage residents, build rain gardens and educate people on how to reduce basement flood risk. The program is generously supported by The Ontario Trillium Foundation and is part of a larger project that involves Green Community members, GreenUp (in partnership with City of Peterborough) and EcoSuperior (in partnership with City of Thunder Bay).

Stormwater programs for residential properties in Mississauga. After an in-depth review by a city working group, Mississauga will offer three stormwater programs for residential properties: outreach and education; home visits; and stormwater fee subsidies for lower-income households. Mayor Bonnie Crombie stated that these initiatives “will help address the needs of our residents and still allow the City to meet its stormwater financial responsibilities.”

Dispelling urban myths about green infrastructure. Many communities in North America are using green infrastructure to help manage stormwater. However, misunderstandings persist. Both Stantec and RAIN Community Solutions have both prepared responses to common questions, and reasons to support implementation of green infrastructure.
An appeal for fairly priced stormwater services. A young community organizer Ian Borsuk has published a well written appeal to the City of Hamilton to consider better ways to fund stormwater management. Borsuk writes: “If Hamilton wants to be resilient in the face of climate change, we have to put aside talk of ‘rain taxes’ and take a sober look at how we currently fund this system. As we do, it becomes apparent that the way we pay for stormwater management simply is not fair.”

Are Ontario communities flood prepared? Environment Canada says Canadians can expect more frequent and severe flood events. Partners in Action of the University of Waterloo released a study this month about the state of readiness for severe flooding. The study identified that many Ontario communities feel they lack the needed information and/or support to manage the social and economic impacts of flooding.

Building drought resiliency. In Canada, we commonly emphasize the benefits of green stormwater infrastructure for helping manage an abundance of rain water. However, green infrastructure can also mitigate the impacts of drought by helping to effectively use and store water, and increasing the replenishment of local water reserves. 

Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway Green Infrastructure Contest. From May 31 to June 2, 2017, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will be hosting a conference on green infrastructure focusing on integrated stormwater management in Detroit, Michigan. The conference aims to attract a multidisciplinary audience ranging from engineers, landscape architects, water quality professionals and local government officials among others. Session topics will include green infrastructure technology, economics, multi-jurisdictional and regional scale projects and local government and public works. A visit to green infrastructure projects in Detroit is also planned in the program. Interested presenters are invited to submit a 500 word abstract and presenting author biography by September 16, 2016. For more information click here


Green infrastructure standards and specifications. Design standards and procedures for implementing green infrastructure in city streets and sidewalks created by New York City’s Green Infrastructure Task Force. The City reports that the guidelines have helped reduce time and costs associated with the construction of green infrastructure. The guidelines are intended for streets and sidewalks but can also be applied to infrastructure practices in parks and school yards.

Incenting the nature of cities: using financial approaches to support green infrastructure in Ontario. This document, authored by Sustainable Prosperity and funded by the Metcalf Foundation, outlines the business case for cities to invest in green infrastructure. The paper introduces six market-based tools that have been used effectively across Canada and the United States to support the expansion of green infrastructure.


2016 Livable Cities Forum. 12-14 September 2016. Halifax, Nova Scotia. Register by 14 August for early-bird rate.

Overcoming Low Impact Development Barriers in Stormwater Management Webinar. Webinar. 22 September 2016. 1-2:30pm (EDT). Presented by Credit Valley Conservation. Register online.

Living Waters Rally. 27-30 September 2016. Vancouver, British Columbia. Hosted by Fresh Water Alliance. Register before 29 July for early-bird rate.

Want to see more events? Check out the RAIN Events Calendar for other upcoming green infrastructure workshops, training, webinars and conferences.

The Umbrella Stormwater Bulletin is a free, monthly newsletter on green stormwater infrastructure published by the RAIN Community Solutions program of Green Communities Canada. Our audience is made up of municipal stormwater professionals, policymakers, academics, engineers, conservation authorities, nonprofits, and interested community members. We encourage submissions from our readers. Please contact the editor to submit a news item, blog idea, or event. RAIN Community Solutions builds support for and participation in stormwater innovations that reduce runoff by managing rain where it falls.

Copyright © 2016 Green Communities Canada, All rights reserved.


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