We were greeted by cheerful faces as we arrived in the cold, wet weather for the first depave event at Sheppard Public School. It was a great opportunity for community building while better managing rainwater and creating a beautiful space. News crews came out to document this historic event, the first ever in Waterloo Region. In an effort to to remove under-utilized pavement from urban spaces and replace it with green spaces, Depave Paradise Canada partnered with the environmental charity, Reep Green Solutions to bring the Depave program to Waterloo Region. Sheppard public school was the first stop!
The day started with unpacking gear and setting up tables for volunteer registration, first aid and refreshments. The kids ensured that the timbits were distributed fairly and no one was excluded from the sugary treats. A quick team meeting got tasks assigned and positive energy flowing just in time for community members to start arriving. Evergreen provided some nature play activities to occupy the kids while their parents were busy depaving.. As the morning progressed and tasks began, the hot beverages would become essential for motivating community members.
Four work areas were set up for volunteers and their families. Team 1 was the depavers. In their steel-toed boots and heavy-duty gloves, they chewed through the pavement in a mere hour and a half filling a whole waste bin with slabs of asphalt.
Team 2 were the diggers. Like industrious dwarves, they sifted through gravel pulling out the nuggets of tar-coated stones and pavement crumbles. Digging into the sodden ground, buckets and wheelbarrows full of gravelly clay soil was removed to improve drainage in the site. It was amazing to see these superheroes clear out so much fill, shifting and heaving buckets into the bins.
Beside them Team 3 took up the sod with manual sod cutters to add more space for plants and an area for the students to relax during recess. Like a plow with a horizontal knife, the sod cutters sliced grass right below the roots allowing strips of grass to be peeled off the soil. It looked so easy, and then I tried it. Not so easy!
Team 4 were the queens of the castle. They presided over the three waste bins helping to dump buckets and steer wheelbarrows. They also ensured that no pavement contaminated the clean fill and no clean fill dirtied the pavement bins. While the parent volunteers did the hard labour, the kids were also hard at work! Setting up natural shelters using sticks and rope they were challenged to be creative and logistical. Volunteers were around to support and discuss the set up while the kids determined the function of their creation. A group of girls set up an entire campground, only missing the marshmallows!
Pizza arrived and everyone was excited to take a break. The energy at the break was high as volunteers chatted and marveled at the progress of the Depave. A hot chocolate refill arrived just in time to warm up the volunteers before getting back to work. Once the pizza was gone, the energy surged as we switched from clearing out the depave site to filling it in with dirt and mulch.
A mountain of soil and mulch remained, waiting to breathe life back into the newly depaved areas. Parents, children (with their little shovels) and community volunteers got hard to work filling wheelbarrows to complete the job. Some children were more preoccupied with climbing the dirt piles and made for a playful environment amidst the laborious task at hand. Who would be able to fill their wheelbarrows the fastest? A little friendly competition between depavers made the experience all the more cheerful and productive.
Some hours later and after much hard work and determination, the never-ending pile of soil seemed to be finally clearing. A couple more hours passed and after countless mulch-filled wheelbarrow trips, the depaved areas began to resemble the precursor of a lively green space more and more.
By 5pm, the tasks were complete, and volunteers were finally able to marvel at the fruits of their labour, making the entire experience well-worth the end results. Overall, the depave as a community building event was a success! Volunteers, young and young at heart, all engaged with one another to complete the project which would beautify the school yard, keep the area cool in summer, add shade, manage stormwater runoff and countless other benefits. Knowing all this, even with the gloomy weather there was a ray of sunshine at Sheppard Public school!
Depave in the News!
By: Heather McDiarmid, Pamela Kisun, Jamylynn McDonald
Photography: Christine Tan
16 Oct 2018
Depave Paradise (a program of Reep Green Solutions) will lead the community in transforming asphalt-covered areas of Sheppard Public School into a dynamic naturalized play space.
Kitchener, ON. On Sunday October 28, the Sheppard Public School community, with partners Reep Green Solutions and Green Communities Canada, will tear up unused pavement and create a naturalized green space for the children of Sheppard Public School. The project will capture rainwater, beautify our community, and showcase a more sustainable way to managed stormwater in urban areas through a program called Depave Paradise. This Depave project is part of an exciting new trend of neighbourhood workbees that renew underutilized, hard urban spaces.
Participants will liberate this area from asphalt and reclaim the space for nature play, creating the first ever ‘depave’ site in Waterloo region. “Hard surfaces, such as driveways, parking lots and buildings interrupt the natural water cycle by preventing rain water from soaking into the ground, thus creating heat island effects, and warming up our cities. By removing pavement and replacing it with native plants, trees and shrubs we are increasing the infiltration rate, recharging our groundwater supply, and cooling the schoolyard,” Becca Robinson, Landscape Designer for Reep Green Solutions explains.
Based on consultation with students and staff at Sheppard Public School, including a ‘Shade Audit’ by the Waterloo Region Public Health and in-class design workshops, the new play space will include native trees and shrubs to provide shade for students and natural objects, such as stumps, logs, and a naturalized ground surface that will absorb more stormwater runoff and reduce the heat radiating off of the play surface during hot days.
Stormwater is the rain or snow that falls on cities and towns and eventually washes into our storm drains. Along the way it picks up a host of toxic chemicals, bacteria, and contaminants like oil, grease, pet waste, litter and salt. These things mix with the water that then proceeds to flow through our drains, untreated, back into rivers and lakes.
“The hands-on depaving process and subsequent tree plantings capture the hearts and energies of our school community, working together to make our school yard healthier for both the environment and students. We are excited to demonstrate to others the power to make positive change when individuals act together,” said Christy Webster, Principal of Sheppard Public School.
Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is one of Canada’s largest granting foundations. With a budget of over $136 million, OTF awards grants to some 1,000 projects every year to build healthy and vibrant Ontario communities. With additional community support and a grant provided by OTF and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, this Depave Paradise project at Sheppard Public School will encourage greener infrastructure in Waterloo Region and showcase the power of community mobilization for a greener future.
Reep Green Solutions is an environmental charity based in the Waterloo Region committed to helping people live sustainably. Reep offers home energy, waste reduction, water conservation and healthy yards services. You may also contact Donnique Williams, [email protected], 519-744-6583 ext. 222, for additional comments.
The RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods Project is nearing the end and we wanted to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of the Lakeside community. We are hosting a garden tour, in collaboration with a placemaking celebration in Lakeside park, to showcase the various projects that have been put in the ground over the past two seasons.
Join us to celebrate the implementation of the park’s new recycling bins and for a tour showcasing the success of neighbourhood projects, beginning at 11am, looping back around to end off at the park.
Take a tour with one of our RAIN staff and get to know many of the beautiful garden and stormwater projects throughout the neighborhood. Stop and chat with the homeowners and get some inspiration for your own garden projects.
This event is a great opportunity to showcase the amazing work in the community and celebrate the hard work and dedication each resident has put into their property to make the RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods Project a success.
Date: | Saturday, July 28
Time | 10am – 12pm
25 Nov 2017
THE REEP HOUSE Series
The Reep House Series is a monthly series of events that showcases the technology and displays at the Reep House for Sustainable Living and explores other ideas and options for living sustainably.
Learn to draftproof your home
The average Canadian home loses about 25% of its heat through drafts and air leakage. In fact, in older draftier homes the percentage may be even higher—up to 40% of the heat in these types of homes can being lost through drafts.
The good news is that it’s something that you can do yourself. It’s also a relatively small investment for the payback you’re going to get and is eligible for Home Reno Rebates.
Come to learn:
- where to look for the leaks that are the most common, the most overlooked, and the most important to seal up
- how to seal the different types of leaks found in your basement, attic, and living spaces
- which materials are the best for sealing different types of leaks
Your sustainable home guide is Brendan Schaefer. He is the Manager of the Reep House for Sustainable Living, and was the Lead Technician in our Great Draftproofing Crackdown project, helping homeowners to draft-proof their homes.
Reep House for Sustainable Living, 20 Mill St., Kitchener
- Presentation / Tour: 1:30 p.m.
- Open House 2:15 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Advance registration below is appreciated.
We encourage the use of active transportation such as walking or biking. The house is just off the Iron Horse Trail and we have a bike rack.
It is also easily accessible by GRT bus routes that use Queen and have stops near Mill St.
If you drive, please consider carpooling with others you know are attending.
Our parking lot only has a few spaces so we have also arranged for parking at the Schneider Haus lot around the corner on Queen St.
27 Sep 2017
Here’s one of the stories that we share in our 2017 Report to the Community about how we help you live sustainably.
When more than 100 people arrived to kick off the Front Yard Makeover contest in June 2016, we could see the benefits of working with neighbourhoods to manage rain. Word of the contest had spread and neighbours came together to learn about the $30,000 in prizes available.
The event also officially launched the RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods project in Kitchener’s Lakeside and Mount Hope neighbourhoods. “As our climate changes, we’re experiencing more intense rains that increase the threat of water invading our homes, flooding our neighbourhoods and carrying pollution into our lakes, rivers, and streams,” said Patrick Gilbride, RAIN program manager. “By concentrating our efforts at a neighbourhood level, not only will individual homes be rain ready but collectively the whole neighbourhood will enjoy the benefit of being protected from the cumulative effort.”
More than 300 people entered the contest that featured a first grand prize of a $10,000 front yard makeover in each neighbourhood and a $1,500 second grand prize. Steven and Jessica bought their first home and moved in a little over a year ago. The choice of neighbourhood they lived in was just as important as the home itself. They wanted to live in a community where people were friendly and socially active. With that in mind, they wanted to make their front yard into a place that could be a conversation starter and where they could interact with their neighbours.
Winning the second grand prize meant that Steven and Jessica Reesor-Rempel could turn their hopes into reality. After consulting RAIN Coach Becca Robinson, they decided the best way to accomplish their goals and have a rain smart home was to install a rain garden. In spring 2017, a work party consisting of family, friends, neighbours and volunteers helped them to transform their yard.
“We’ve already noticed a difference. We’ve had some heavy rains but more of it is staying on our property instead of finding its way onto our neighbours’ properties or picking up pollution on its way into the storm sewer”, said Jessica Reesor-Rempel. “And hanging out in our front yard and interacting with our neighbours more has helped us to create a greater sense of belonging in our neighbourhood.”
This video shows the creation of Steven and Jessica’s rain garden:
The three-year RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods project continues until the end of 2018, working with both Lakeside and Mount Hope residents. We help them manage the rain landing on their property so that it does not contribute to a neighbour’s wet basement or to any flooding down the street after heavy rain. Through the project, homeowners take advantage of incentives that encourage action on their own property for the benefit of the whole community.
The Ontario Trillium Foundation, which is an agency of the Government of Ontario, funds the project. Partners in the program are Partners For Action, Green Communities Canada and the City of Kitchener, which also provides funding.
24 Aug 2017
By Sarah Lukaszczyk, Communications Assistant
Given the warmer weather, we students take every opportunity to be outdoors. Fortunately for me, this meant venturing to the Lakeside neighbourhood to the RAIN Smart Home of Madeline and Josh Hunsberger at 184 Gatewood Drive. to learn about how rain gardens are constructed. Reep Green Solutions partnered with the City of Kitchener to create a project in the neighbourhood that would showcase the beauty of rain gardens and their ability to improve the quality of water going into our lakes and streams.
Having arrived early to the workshop, I was drawn to the display boards depicting plants of different colours, blooming in different seasons, and planted at varying depths. The workshop facilitator, Reep Green Solution’s RAIN Coach Becca Robinson, explained how the seasonal chart was put together to ensure that there was always something blooming in the gardens that the homeowner and people in the community could enjoy. Becca, in her role as RAIN Coach, is working with people in Lakeside to help other neighbourhood residents plan their own rain gardens.
Although the bulk of the work happens underground, the parts of the rain garden you can see more than justify a second, third and fourth glance. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the garden was also a hot bed for discussion. Madeline shared her desire to incorporate the plants she had saved from her grandmother’s garden. The ability to personalize their yard ties in well with the motivation to create beautiful spaces that also provide an environmental benefit. Community members gathered long after the workshop ended to discuss various plants they had in their garden and the best places to get them.
In sum, it was a unique opportunity and escape I was fortunate experience. From seeing the original garden blueprints to its final manifestation, I not only got some insight into what it takes to be a landscape designer but also to be part of a vibrant and climate conscious community.
If you live in one of the Kitchener neighbouroods Lakeside or Mount Hope you can book a free consultation with the RAIN Coach as part of the RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods Project. Please contact us at [email protected] or call 519-744-6583 x 227.
Earth Day is on a Saturday this year
Come and join the celebrations at the Reep House for Sustainable Living!
Enter our prize draw! Tattoos for the kids!
Here’s what’s happening
Open House 10 – 3
Drop and check out environmentally friendly features both inside and outside the Reep House for Sustainable Living.
Ask the Experts
10 – 1 Home Energy Efficiency: Dave Wood, Registered Energy Advisor
10 – 11 Water Conservation: Brendan Schaefer, Reep House Facilities Manager
12 – 1 Insulation: Brendan Schaefer, Reep House Facilities Manager
1 – 3 RAIN Smart Homes: Patrick Gilbride, RAIN Program Manager
1 – 3 Taking action on climate change: Danielle Laperriere, ClimateActionWR
2 – 3 Waste Reduction: Andrea Bales, Waste Reduction Advisor
Schneider Creek Neighbourhood Clean Up
10 a.m. – Gather at the park by the pedestrian bridge on Peter Street
10 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Clean up!
Noon – Return to Reep House to enjoy hospitality and open house
18 Apr 2017
Alexis and the RAIN Smart House: Chapter 4
This post is the fourth in a series about how Alexis is working towards a RAIN Smart Home.
by Daniel Jordan, RAIN Program Volunteer
As the winner of the RAIN Smart Front Yard Makeover contest Alexis Motuz receives $10,000 to spend on a Front Yard Makeover that will both enhance her property and reduce the amount of stormwater running off her property and directly into the storm sewer.
The prize included a consultation by our RAIN Coach to assess her home and provide some ideas of how best to manage water on her property. The Coach then turned those ideas into an appealing design for Alexis’ outdoor space.
Rebecca Robinson – RAIN Coach
Alexis and her family already use their yard heavily and she had some great ideas for how it could be improved. Having two young kids, she wanted to maintain some open space for play. She also wanted to have raised beds for growing vegetables.
Alexis and I sat down and in a very short time, we were able to take these priorities and build them into something that will increase the environmental sustainability of the space and enhance its functionality for her and her family.
Working with a designer was a lot of fun. I had already sketched out some ideas, but the designer was able to take those ideas and really make the most of the space that I have. I wanted to keep an open space for my kids to play, but I also wanted to keep the vegetable garden and direct water into it.
Rebecca helped me come up with a design for the yard that maximizes play space while allowing me to keep my vegetable garden and reduce the amount of time I spend watering.
I really look forward to seeing how my family uses the space differently when it is finished, and I am excited that the design is both environmentally sustainable and has elements that can leverage the skills of artists and businesses in the neighbourhood.
In the end, Rebecca and I decided on a kid-friendly strawberry patch and allium garden at the front of the yard—something Dr. Seuss-ish. This will be planted overtop of storm water crates (B) that will redirect a significant amount of water from the roof that is currently running onto the driveway and street into the storm sewer.
In the back of the yard, we decided to use a cistern to collect water from the roof (D). We will then hook it up to weeping hoses and use this for irrigating the vegetable garden boxes. Although it may seem like a small gain to some, I am so excited not to have to water every evening and to move away from using municipal water.
We also decided to move the apple tree into the side yard because it is not flourishing out front, and we are going to install a second large rain barrel on the other side of the house (C) so that I can collect water to use for the front garden and raspberry boxes.
There were some design challenges that required me to keep an open mind. When the design first suggested moving the garden boxes in front of the deck so that we could do the passive irrigation (4), I thought this would look strange. I took some time to think about it more, though, and as I walked my yard, the idea grew on me. It is a something I would never have thought of myself, but I’m excited to see how it turns out.
Before meeting with Rebecca, I had thought about redoing the driveway in permeable pavers. While these are very effective at soaking up rainwater and they look fantastic, they are pricey and I wouldn’t have been able to develop my yard into the garden/play space that will be of much more benefit in the long term.
Finally, I had originally thought a rain garden might work on my property but between keeping an open play space, moving the apple tree, and the proximity to my foundations, it seemed the stormwater crates would be a better solution. So there was a lot to learn through this process and I had to keep an open mind. It’s been a wonderfully collaborative process with lots of back and forth, and I am happy to be adopting new design ideas and rain management systems in my yard.
RAIN Smart design solutions used
Here’s a closer look at some of the features included in this RAIN Smart Home.
B – Infiltration gallery/basin
Alexis is also going to use an underground infiltration gallery to allow more water to soak down into the soil. Traditionally, infiltration galleries are made by digging a hole and filling it with rock or sand. Or as used at Alexis’ home, specially designed crates are placed into a hole and covered. It is recommended that infiltration galleries be professionally installed.
C – Added rain barrel
D – Cistern
Alexis has decided to use a cistern to capture the rain from her roof and use it as a resource for her vegetable garden. A cistern is essentially a larger version of a rain barrel. It is usually made of a heavy-duty plastic or concrete. Cisterns are sometimes buried underground, but in Alexis case, the cistern is kept above ground and raised slightly, which allows her to use gravity to passively water the plants in her garden. Cisterns can vary widely in size from between approximately 350-5200 litres of water.
Although Alexis had hoped to plant a rain garden, she ultimately went with the infiltration gallery to maximize usable play space for her kids. As an alternative, she intends to use native plants above the infiltration gallery and in the garden beds surrounding her yard. Native plants are being used because they are well suited to the local soil and sunlight conditions.
To learn about other RAIN Smart techniques, you are invited to visit the Reep House for Sustainable Living at 20 Mill Street, Kitchener to see these techniques in action. We also invite you to sign up for our newsletter and learn more at one of our upcoming events.
06 Apr 2017
Chapter 3: Alexis and the RAIN Smart House
This post is the third in a series about how Alexis is working towards a RAIN Smart Home.
by Daniel Jordan, RAIN Program Volunteer
With $10,000 at her disposal, Alexis Motuz is going to transform her property into a showcase of the latest and greatest in stormwater management best practices thanks to winning our RAIN Smart Front Yard Makeover contest in Mount Hope.
In this chapter, we look at how Alexis got her project underway with a RAIN Coach Consultation.
The RAIN Coach Consultation
After the excitement of winning the grand prize had passed, Alexis’ first step was to meet with the RAIN Coach. This consultation would give her guidelines that would help with deciding what direction to go with the project.
Here is a look at the consultation from the perspective of the coach and homeowner.
Name: Rebecca Robinson
Occupation: RAIN Coach
“On a bright October afternoon, I had the opportunity to visit Alexis’ property. It is always interesting visiting different properties because each has its own issues and opportunities. In the case of Alexis’ property, one of the things she was facing was that the runoff from her roof, although directed into a rain barrel, was not easily accessible for other uses. It was good to see that the landscaping around the house was effective at keeping water away from the basement. That would be one less thing for her to worry about.
After looking around and taking some measurements I was able to suggest a few courses of action that Alexis could take. Although she was interested in a rain garden as one way to use rainwater, she also wanted to plant an apple tree in the same area. Because there is a recommended minimum distance between these two, we opted for a solution to divert the water underground into an infiltration gallery that allows water to collect and slowly go into the ground. The rest of the water would be stored in a large cistern on her side yard deck. I proposed a design to move her garden boxes in front of the deck so that she could use the water from the cistern for passive irrigation for her raised beds.”
“The RAIN Coach consultation helped me to see that water management didn’t just have to be about how to prevent runoff from reaching the stormwater drains, but that it could also be about how to take that water and use it more efficiently as a resource. Because of the position of my drain spouts, my rain barrel is on the opposite side of the house from my garden. Rebecca helped me to see that there were things I could do to take advantage of that water and use it to my family’s benefit. In the past, I spent a lot of time filling my watering can and watering by hand to empty my rain barrel; this year I am planning to raise the barrel and use passive irrigation for my front garden. This is what Rebecca suggested for my side garden boxes and I love the idea. In the past, I spent a lot of time (and municipal water!) watering my garden. I see this passive irrigation as a huge time and resource saver, and I’m excited to see how the veggies benefit from it.”
The benefits of a consultation
The RAIN Coach consultation offers an opportunity to consult with an expert on how to improve your outdoor space. The goal of the visit is to help the homeowner realize their goals for their outdoor space in a RAIN Smart way. This means taking into consideration three different things
Homeowners dread a leaky or damp basement. It can be the cause of mold, rot, and other damage. Before implementing any landscaping solutions, you want to ensure that you are not causing problems for your home. The RAIN Coach can give you suggestions on how to avoid water from flowing towards your foundation.
Passing your water problem onto your neighbours property is not a solution or a way to make friends. The RAIN Coach helps you to see how your landscaping decisions can impact your neighbour. At the same time, steps that you take to slow the water down, let it soak into the ground, and keep it clean, can have a positive impact on your neighbour’s property. This is something you can do to be a good neighbour.
The impact on the environment when everyone does their part can be significant. The RAIN Coach can help you to help the environment. She will show you how you can make a difference that matters.
03 Apr 2017
by Daniel Jordan, RAIN Program Volunteer
This post is the first in a series about how Alexis worked towards a RAIN Smart Home.
Last summer a group of intrepid workers and volunteers visited each home in the Mount Hope and Lakeside neighbourhoods. What message were they spreading? A message about building neighbourhood resiliency and, to everyone’s delight, a message about contests and savings.
The RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods project, in partnership with the City of Kitchener, Partners for Action and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, offered one homeowner the exciting opportunity to walk away with a $10,000 front-yard makeover.
Other prizes included $1,500 towards a RAIN Smart improvement project and free home consultations by a “RAIN Coach”
Why RAIN Smart?
In nature, when it rains, the rain falls on trees and plants and slowly makes its way to the ground, soaking into the soil and replenishing the groundwater. Unfortunately, in our world of concrete and asphalt, when it storms, the water hits these hard surfaces and runs off into the storm pipes, picking up dirt, oil and debris as it goes.
Often this water goes untreated and makes its way into our rivers and lakes, polluting, eroding and warming the surface temperature of these water bodies, which can lead to algae outbreaks and other nastiness. Health problems related to water pollution are estimated to cost Canadians $300 million dollars per year.
The RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods project encourages people to make a small but meaningful contribution to the solution by using three simple principles: 1) Slow it down; 2) Soak it up; and 3) Keep it clean.
The winner of the RAIN Smart Front Yard Makeover has the opportunity to put these three principles into practice with the help of Reep Green Solutions. So let’s see who won!
Alexis and the RAIN Smart Home
Chapter 1 – Alexis wins a front yard makeover
Occupation: Recruitment Consultant and mother of two
Neighbourhood: Mount Hope
Enjoys: gardening, teaching, and collaborating on artistic and community development projects
Alexis’ story in her own words:
Last July, a kind young man with a slight German accent knocked on my door. He was wearing a shirt that said Reep Green Solutions. I had heard about them through their involvement in the home energy evaluation program, but the RAIN program was new to me. He began to tell me about the RAIN Smart Neighbourhood initiative and the contest that they were holding for our area.
I knew a little about the pollution caused by stormwater run off and I already had a rain barrel that I used to divert some of this water and use it for gardening. I was eager to learn more, specifically about the more creative solutions that have been devised to divert (and use) this water.
When I learned I had been selected in a random draw to move to the next stage of the contest, I was very excited – as I told my son, with whom I was reading Charlie and The Chocolate Factory at this time, that this was like my own “golden ticket!”
In August, I was contacted and told that I was one of the finalists. On August 2 at the Guelph Street Community Garden, they announced the winners and, though I could hardly believe it, I had been chosen to be grand prize recipient for my neighbourhood.
I feel very grateful to be a part in this program. I look forward to having my outdoor space transformed and serve as an inspiration for others in the neighbourhood who will be able to take advantage of incentives. I‘m eagerly anticipating the work parties in our neighbourhood, to getting my kids involved and educating them on gardening and rain water solutions, and to seeing the overall transformation of front yards in what is already a creative, vibrant, and eco-friendly community.
I’m excited to see the final product for my yard and to having it be a showcase for what others can do. I also look forward to sharing my experience, and promoting the local workers/artists involved in the project, as I go through it.
In future posts, we’ll share the process used and progress that Alexis is making towards a RAIN Smart Home.