58 Hazelglen Drive is a 6-unit townhouse, built in 1975, in the Victoria Hills neighbourhood. It is one of several owned and managed by George Lavallee in Kitchener-Waterloo. As an experienced realtor George has made his living by thinking ahead of the curve. So with the trend in rising utility rates he saw an opportunity to convert the lawn at Hazelglen to a rain garden that would be eligible for stormwater credits to help offset these rising operational costs.


A downspout at the front of the building directed water to the residents’ parking lot. According to George Lavallee “in the winter the ice builds up regularly in the parking lot and causes a huge demand for salt” to prevent slips and falls for tenants and their visitors. Another downspout dumped water close to the building’s foundation which put the basement at risk of flooding. George also wanted to improve the curb appeal of the property without significantly increasing its maintenance budget.

Project Details:

  • 5,000 Litre capacityLocation: 58 Hazelglen Dr., Kitchener
  • Maximum Capacity: 5,000 L
  • Estimated Diversion Per Year: 27,000 L
Filsinger Park Naturalization:

The Victoria Hills is home to Filsinger Park, which features a natural urban creek. The creek was straightened and lined with concrete in the 1970s so that it could remove water from neighbouring properties as quickly as possible and send it downstream. In 2014-2015, it underwent a facelift that reflects updated perceptions on how best to manage stormwater. The City of Kitchener removed the concrete and replaced it with a meandering stream surrounded by native plants on its banks. This project was a pilot to determine the capacity of a naturalized stream to handle big storm events and reduce downstream impacts. Hand in hand with this naturalization work, the City of Kitchener is providing incentives for property owners to manage rain where it falls.

By soaking up water on their own properties, such as at the rain garden at 58 Hazelglen, people can do their part to help protect urban waterways.


To address these concerns, George Lavallee partnered with REEP Green Solutions on a RAIN Demonstration Project, made possible by a grant from the City of Kitchener. The downspouts at the front of the building were re-configured to outlet away from the parking lot and buried under the sidewalk so that any runoff flows into a rain garden. This effectively addressed the ice build-up in the parking lot so that less salt is required over the winter months, thereby reducing maintenance costs.

The rain garden is specially designed to capture a large volume of water that will slowly percolate into the ground within 24-48 hours. Rain gardens differ from regular gardens because they are dug out and filled with a mixture of compost, soil and mulch with a large percentage of sand. Sand has more pore space which enables the garden to act like a sponge and hold larger volumes of water. Once the rain garden excavation was complete, residents from the neighbourhood participated in a RAIN Garden Party to learn how to make their own rain garden and plant the one at 58 Hazelglen. Native plants were selected because they are able to thrive in extreme wet and dry conditions. As their root systems grow, the rain garden will be able to better infiltrate water into the ground.

hazelglen stormwater solution

RAIN Partners & Funders

City of Cambridge logo



AET Group Inc. (AET) is an environmental consulting, auditing and scientific services firm founded in 1998. Their head office in Kitchener is in a 135-year-old former farmhouse. They have remodeled it to rival some of the leading buildings built today in terms of its energy and water efficiency. LED lighting, and a planned addition of a ‘living wall’ to improve indoor air quality are among the many features that are or will soon be integrated into the building. As part of their work, AET is often asked to provide stormwater impact monitoring and water quality assessments. With this project, AET has taken the plunge to address stormwater problems on their own property.


The former farmhouse is now surrounded by development on all sides. The property has been paved over as a parking lot for their employees. Any rain that falls on the property flows over hard surfaces into the storm sewer carrying with it any oil and grit from the parking lot. Large storm events have caused flooding and water damage in the basement with the potential to form mould. AET Group wanted to improve the quality of the water and reduce the overall volume flowing from their property without sacrificing any parking spaces.

Project Details:4,200 Litres capacity

  • Location: 531 Wellington Street North, Kitchener
  • Maximum Capacity: 4,200L
  • Estimated Diversion Per Year: 205,000 L
  • Awards and Certifications
    • Environment & Sustainability Award,  Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards (2009, 2012)
    • Green Team of the Year – Regional Carbon Initiative: Sustainable Waterloo Region (2014)





A RAIN Business Visit evaluated the water issues and came up with some recommendations to address the problems and maximize stormwater credits for the site. AET consulted RAIN’s Service Provider List to find a landscaping professional and hired Thompson Environmental Planning & Design Ltd. for the technical design and project installation.

70% of the stormwater on AET’s property will be captured in their new system, which includes a:

  1. A 500L stone forebay which filters debris
  2. A 1m x 12m planter box bioswale designed to catch, soak up, and treat 1,300L of stormwater flowing from their rooftop and parking lot. Only a small amount of asphalt had to be removed to install the bioswale and rain garden, and no parking spaces will be lost.  The property is now eligible for stormwater credits from the City of Kitchener.
  3. Overflows into a 2,400L rain garden captures excess water and allows it to infiltrate and recharge groundwater before it can flow into the storm sewer.

diagram of stormwater features on AET Group property


RAIN Partners & Funders

City of Cambridge logo
When it rains, stormwater drains rapidly off the Hacienda parking lot eroding the soil at the edges and carries with it oil, and other pollutants to the storm sewer downhill. Hacienda’s owners needed the solution to be both functional and beautiful so as to match with the charm and elegance of the property.
HaciendaSarria-feature-imageThe intricate Spanish-inspired architecture at Hacienda Sarria make it highly sought after for wedding receptions and corporate events. It’s roots harken back to its days as a sugar beet factory in the early 1900s. On the grounds of the former factory a community garden has been cultivated by volunteers to teach sustainable food production and provide local produce to restaurants and organic grocers.
Solution:                                                               A_buttonPretreatment trench: runoff from the parking lot flows into a long trench filled with stone around its perimeter. The stones help to trap any solids or grit. A perforated pipe running through the trench conveys filtered water to the rain garden.
B_button Riverstone: placed at the inlet to the rain garden spreads the flow and dissipates the energy of the water and prevents erosion.
Rain Garden (10,000L) captures water in a planting mix of topsoil, compost and sand for up to 48 hours. The sandy soil native to Hacienda Sarria helps the water to infiltrate quickly. Micro-organisms in the soil treat pollutants such as oil and gasoline before water percolates into the ground. As the plants grow they will enhance the appeal of the grounds and their deeper roots will increase the efficiency of the rain garden.
10,000 Litre capacity
Project Details:
Location: 1254 Union Street, Kitchener
Maximum Capacity: 10,000L
Estimated Diversion Per Year: 316,000L
Additional stormwater controls at Hacienda Sarria include a 5000L cistern that collects rooftop water to irrigate their garden beds, 2 green roofs, work with a Smart About Salt trained snow removal contractor.

diagram of Hacienda Sarria: Pretreatment trench, Riverstone & Rain Garden

Pretreatment trench and riverstone that treat water before it enters the rain garden.
Pretreatment trench and riverstone that treat water before it enters the rain garden

RAIN Partners & Funders

City of Cambridge logo
Chicopee Tube Park requires approximately 15 million litres of water per year to make artificial snow. At 2015 rates this volume of water would cost approximately $50,000 over one season alone. Combined with the trend in rising water rates, it became increasingly clear to Chicopee Operations Manager Bob Harris that continuing to make snow with municipal water was becoming unsustainable, both economically and environmentally.
Chicopee Tube Park is a year-round recreation facility accessible by public transit in Kitchener. In the winter months they operate a snow tubing hill with a growing customer base of around 65,000 visitors in the winter season. The business operates on land leased to them by the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA).

Solution:Chicopee Tube Park was able to develop a plan, which included funding from the W.E.T. Program, to help with the design of a stormwater pond at the base of the hill that would capture melting snow and rain water. The hill has been contoured to feed into a trench, so that runoff from the slopes is transferred into the pond. Water is also captured from the roof of the main building and the parking lot and directed to the pond. This water is then harvested to make snow for the Tube Park. The lower temperatures of the water and the fine particles of dirt in it make it ideal for making snow.

With the assistance of the RAIN program, Chicopee Tube Park is expanding its drainage system to the pond. Stormwater that runs off the hill onto River Road will be redirected to the pond. This will reduce the potential for erosion on an existing GRCA trail and amount to a further capture of 100,000 litres of runoff over the winter season. The goal is to use the pond for 100% of its snow-making.

3,785,000 Litre capacity

Project Details:
Location: 1600 River Road East, Kitchener,
Maximum Capacity: 3,785,000L

diagram of the rainwater harvesting and snow-making system at Chicopee Tube Park

RAIN Partners & Funders

City of Cambridge logo


Huron Natural Area is a 107-hectare site that is home to one of Kitchener’s few coldwater streams and some sensitive wetlands. People in the community gather to hike the extensive trail system, photograph wildlife and relax in the woods. Children learn to connect with nature through interpretive programming and play in the natural playscape.

Because of Huron Natural Area’s popularity, there was a demand for more parking. The problem with adding hard surfaces such as parking lots is that they can disrupt the natural water cycle by preventing rain from soaking into the ground. Matt Wilson, a local paving contractor and Design and Construction Project Manager at the City of Kitchener’s Stormwater Utility, saw the problem as an opportunity to test some innovative technology. Matt proposed constructing the parking lot with permeable pavement in order to prevent negative impacts to the natural area and wetlands.

Permeable pavers are specially designed to allow rain and melted snow to pass through the gaps between the pavers (bricks). But the real key is in the stone reservoir underneath the pavers. Water is temporarily stored in the reservoir before slowly percolating into the ground. Naturally occurring micro-organisms in the reservoir help to break down hydrocarbons and other pollutants coming from vehicles. When looking to diversify your garage’s capabilities, you can never go wrong the flexibility of 2 post car lifts. Rainwater absorbed from the permeable parking lot then travels underground through the soil further filtering and cleaning the rainwater so that only clean water is released back to the wetlands and streams in the park.

Helped with a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Matt and his colleagues at the city will be monitoring the site for water quantity and quality to determine its effectiveness and evaluate whether permeable pavers are a feasible solution for other municipal projects.

permeable pavement diagram at Huron Natural Area

2015 Stormwater Management Improvement Award Winner

Here’s the story of one of the 2015 Celebrating Community Action award recipients. Learn about all nine recipients.

Given their commitment to continuous improvement, Maintenance Manager Joe Adam turned his eye to the property outside. When he walks out of their Waterloo factory into the open field next to their parking lot he sees more than just grass. “I’d love to see this field turned into a tall-grass prairie, a self-sustaining ecosystem.” So when he heard about the grants available for creating a RAIN Demonstration Project he jumped at the opportunity. The project evolved out of a desire to capture and clean runoff from the Johnsonite parking lot.
Johnsonite Canada Inc. is a commercial flooring company with facilities across North America. Their parent company Tarkett aspires to make all of their products using circular design principles. All stages of their products’ life cycles are examined for opportunities to reduce environmental impacts and create ‘circles’ where waste is eliminated or re-integrated into new products. As part of this philosophy their Waterloo factory has put in place processes to improve their energy and water efficiency on an ongoing basis.
At the outflow point for their parking lot a ‘treatment train’ system was designed to remove pollutants and soak up water from a large storm (25mm). The treatment train involves mimicking natural processes so that water quality improves as it flows through each stage of the ‘train’.
A_buttonForebay (5,000 L): consisting of a biologically active mixture of compost, sand and topsoil with medium to large stones on the surface to armour against erosion. The system helps to trap debris and filter out oil and grit before the water passes through to the bioswale.
B_button Bioswale (17,000L): a long, dug out trench filled with a similar biologically-active mixture is chosen for its capacity to absorb and retain water. The plants in the bioswale have root systems that maintain the infiltration of stormwater while supporting a diversity of micro-organisms which help to further clean the water before it percolates into the ground. Any water not infiltrated by the bioswale overflows into a rain garden.
Rain Garden (8,000L) captures excess water and allows it to infiltrate and recharge groundwater. In the event of a storm larger than 25mm, water progresses into a swale. A swale meanders around the edge of the property and permits infiltration, evaporation and transpiration of the rainwater by vegetation. Any excess water flows into the storm sewer system where it is channeled towards the Grand River.

30,000 Litre capacity

Project Details:
Location: 560 Weber Street North, Waterloo
Maximum Capacity: 30,000L
Estimated Diversion Per Year: 2,617,000L
Stormwater Credit: 23%
Awards and Certifications:

  • ISO 9001
  • ISO 140001
  • OHSAS 18001
  • 2015 RAIN Improvement Award

Diagram of the Johnsonite Demo Project

RAIN Partners & Funders

City of Cambridge logo
Each year, especially in the winter and spring, ice, snow and water would accumulate in a high traffic area next to the Ontario Early Years Centre. Rain and melted snow would drain from the downspouts at the back of the building and discharge onto the sloped pavement, nesting itself into the cracked depression between the parking lot and the wheelchair ramp at the front entrance.
The YMCA Ontario Early Years Centre on Erbsville Road has been servicing parents and caregivers with free structured programming for infants and children up to the age of six since 2004. Stacey McCormick, the Supervisor at the Centre said that wet spots in the parking lot have been a perennial headache. To maintain the safety of their patrons, staff would take precautions by liberally applying salt to the icy spots to prevent slips and falls.
The Early Years Centre’s landlord, the City of Waterloo, decided to address the problem by re-directing runoff from the rear downspouts underground to an infiltration gallery. A long trench parallel to the back of the building was dug out and filled with washed round stone. The infiltration gallery can capture up to 9,000L of water at a time. Any water collected subsequently percolates slowly into the ground. Since there is no basement there were not any concerns about water making its way into the building. During particularly large storms any overflow will rise up to the surface and flow out to the street.The work took a little over a week to complete but the temporary disturbance “was well worth it” says Stacey, “the families who use the Centre have been expressing their appreciation at not having to navigate the icy patch to get to the ramp with their strollers”. As an added bonus, since the change they have been able to reduce their salt use significantly in the winter. If there is any downside to the improvements… it means no more puddles for the toddlers to splash in!

9,000 Litre capacity

Project Details:
Location: 719 Erbsville Road, Waterloo
Maximum Capacity: 9,000L
Estimated Diversion Per Year: 785,000L

diagram of infiltration gallery at the YMCA Early Years Centre
Stacey McCormick, Supervisor of the YMCA Ontario Early Years Centre, Erbsville Road location
Before and After construction of the infiltration gallery

RAIN Partners & Funders

City of Cambridge logo


As part of our RAIN program, REEP Green Solutions shares information related to living sustainably and our stormwater system.

You may be surprised to hear that the busiest time of year for car washes is in the winter.

That’s not the only common misconception of this industry. “There is a misunderstanding about commercial carwashes. They look like big water users, but in reality our services use less water and are better for the environment than washing your car in the driveway,” explains Mike Black, co-owner of Valet Car Wash in Kitchener.

“We recently put in a reclaim system which captures and reuses about 50% of our water. We did it because of the economics – our water bill has been cut in half.” Each car wash is now using about as much water as a load of laundry!

Valet ensures pollutants such as heavy solids, oils, and gasoline are captured before the water is discharged to the city’s sanitary system, to then be treated before being released. Whereas “at home there is nothing to capture harmful stuff that washes down the storm drain. Most people don’t think about where it goes, but it all enters our fresh water and our rivers without being treated”.

Mike hopes that education will help people try and follow best practices for car washing.

23 Dec 2015

Heffner Toyota

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.

Stream that runs through the Heffner Toyota property

2015 RAIN Community Engagement Award Winner

Here’s the story of one of the 2015 Celebrating Community Action award recipients. Learn about all nine recipients.

With 36,000 students and 5,000 staff on its Waterloo campus, the University of Waterloo is like a small, innovative city nested inside of a larger one. Stormwater management innovation is an important part of UW’s sustainability approach. With 3 permeable paving installations, 5 green roofs, a rooftop water collection system that filters water through a constructed wetland then re-uses the water to flush toilets and water the green wall, and extensive native plant gardens, the university has become a recognized innovator and leader in stormwater education.

Garden-based stormwater management practices have had additional social and educational benefits to the campus. The green roof and patio built by contractors on the new LEED Platinum Environmental Studies building has become a favourite relaxation spot for staff and students. The unused lawn between the Arts and Environment buildings has been transformed by gardens, winding paths and seating areas into a place where people sit to chat, study and do yoga. “The new gardens have invited more birds and butterflies to campus and they’ve also drastically changed the way parts of campus are used,” explains Jessica Alessio, Ecology Lab Assistant.  “The Environmental Studies students are actively involved in the design, planting and maintenance of the native plant gardens. The gardens have become an outdoor classroom.”

Along with the benefits of McGehee Private High School, there have also been challenges and tough decisions about where to prioritize stormwater management projects. “Many of these new projects need several iterations to get them right,” says Mat Thijssen, the University’s Sustainability Coordinator “the more hands off a system is, the more likely it is to be successful. It’s also more cost effective to integrate designs into new builds, which is why these features are more prevalent in our new construction projects. The university designs all of its new buildings to a minimum of LEED Silver and innovative stormwater features help us to achieve that.”

Native plant gardens, constructed wetland and permeable walkway at UW

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