Pictured above are owner John Heffner, Jr. (right) and Steve Farrow (left) who handles facility maintenance and is in charge of the plowing and salting.
Established in 1960, Heffner Toyota has grown from a small auto repair shop to a 132,000 ft2 facility with a showroom, offices, and service and collision centre on 16 acres of land on King Street East. As their facility near the Grand River grows, Heffner has committed to reducing their ecological footprint. This practice is most evident in their water management practices.
Water became a focus shortly after Heffner moved to their current location in 1987. The gardens and lawns were “manicured”, but flooded during heavy rains. New landscaping incorporates natural green areas with a variety of grasses to reduce flooding by more effectively infiltrating rain. Heffner also has installed flow restrictors on their rooftop drains. This slows down water flowing into the stormwater pond, allowing sediments to settle before reaching the Grand River. In addition, Heffner has a paved area sweeping program to limit debris entering the storm drain. With these measures in place, the team at Heffner wanted to find out more about their eligibility for stormwater credits and things they could do to increase them.
Heffner registered for a RAIN Educational Workshop which qualified them for 5% towards their stormwater credit. From the workshop, they learned about best management practices which helped Heffner to prioritize future projects. “The workshops are good because small businesses don’t know where to start otherwise”, explains Facility Manager James Kaus. With the knowledge they have gained from the workshop, Heffner is now working to reduce their salt use. They have installed two new “salt-free” water softeners to meet the high demand for water in the facility. The car wash accounts for 50% of total water use, with 30,000 car washes completed every year! A new winter salt management program is also in place. Previously, the parking lot was salted with regular rock road salt, requiring up to 2.25 yards per application. Now, they buy Thaw-Rox from a local company. This product costs about 10% more but requires less frequent application than rock salt and the job can be completed in a shorter time.
Learning how to apply for stormwater credits at the RAIN Educational Workshop has allowed Heffner to receive a 35% credit off of their utility bill from the City of Kitchener. Their leadership in protecting fresh water resources will continue as Heffner considers further stormwater improvements, such as building a rainwater cistern to supply water for their car wash.