Reep Green Solutions is proud to announce the much anticipated RAIN Smart Framework for Municipalities! We worked together with Partners for Action to develop a guide for engaging communities on progressive stormwater management. This framework includes ready-to-use templates and resources on how to build a program to engage a residential neighbourhood on lot-level stormwater management.

Our work developing the RAIN Smart Neighbourhood Project in the City of Kitchener in Lakeside and Mount Hope neighbourhoods provided us with the real world experience to create this framework. The project ground tested several methods of engagement with homeowners to increase resiliency of stormwater infrastructure on a neighbourhood scale.

Municipalities can use this framework as an aid to develop their own strategies for enlisting community members help to manage rain close to where it falls. The framework offers practical suggestions to increase public awareness of stormwater management issues and green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), promoting residential update of GSI, and fostering collaboration between residential homeowners, citizen grounds and municipal staff.

 

Download the RAIN Smart Framework for Municipalities!

 

RAIN Smart infographic

This project was made possible with the support of Ontario Trillium Foundation, City of Kitchener, and Partners for Action.

 

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

Location | Lakeside Park (Entrance at Lakeside Dr/Gatewood Rd.)

Plant a rain garden in beautiful Lakeside Park. Lakeside Park is a true gem in the heart of the city. It is home to a variety of wildlife and its natural beauty attracts people from all over the city. The Greenbrook Water Treatment in the park has been a source of Kitchener’s drinking water since it first was built in 1899.

By planting a rain garden next to this historic building you will be helping to enhance the habitat for urban wildlife, protect our drinking water and create a demonstration of sustainable gardening for visitors to the park. Please join us for a brief presentation on how to incorporate sustainable gardening practices to make your own yard healthier and tips on the types of plants to select. Following the presentation, get your hands dirty and help plant the garden that will herald the Greenbrook Drive entrance to the park for many years to come.

AGENDA

7:00-7:30 pm Introductions and Q&A
7:30-8:00 pm Planting, adding mulch, watering

PRESENTERS

Jeff Thompson, President, Rainworx
Jeff is an Environmental Biologist who has been teaching landscape professionals across Ontario on the proper design and construction of rain gardens.

 

 

Patrick Gilbride, RAIN Program Manager, Reep Green Solutions

TRANSPORTATION

We encourage the use of active transportation such as walking or biking.  Meeting spot will be at the park entrance on Greenbrook Drive. Please note: there is no parking available on-site, use on-street parking or the lot off Lakeside Drive near Gatewood Road.

Presenters

  • Becca Robinson, RAIN Coach, Reep Green Solutions
  • Patrick Gilbride, RAIN Program Manager, Reep Green Solutions

Workshop Description

St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of ecologists. So it is only appropriate that the community will come together to build a rain garden at the church named in his honour. The rain garden will provide habitat for wildlife and inspire others in the neighbourhood to help protect the environment. RAIN Coach Becca Robinson will guide participants, step by step, through the construction of a rain garden. Following a short educational presentation on rain gardens at 10 am, participants are invited to help convert an unused patch of grass into a rain garden that will soak up stormwater that would otherwise run-off.

Rain gardens are constructed to capture a large volume of water. Rain gardens differ from conventional gardens because they are dug out and filled with a special soil/compost mixture, enabling the garden to act like a sponge. Learn step by step how to construct a rain garden to maximize its ability to capture water, while also enhancing and beautifying your outdoor space!

This workshop is part of our RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods project, in which two Kitchener neighbourhoods – Lakeside and Mount Hope – are receiving support to beautify their homes with landscapes that manage rain where it falls. If you live in one of these neighbourhoods, get in touch to see how we can help you make your home more RAIN Smart!

A timeline of the day’s events

(times are approximate)

  • 10:00 am – 10:15 am: Presentation about rain gardens
  • 10:15 am – 11:30 am: Digging out the rain garden
  • 11:30 am – 12:15 pm: Refilling the rain garden with special soil/compost mix
  • 12:15 pm – 1:00 pm: Break for lunch
  • 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm: Planting plants, adding mulch, watering plants
  • 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Cleaning up

Transportation

We encourage you to use a sustainable form of transportation such as walking, cycling or carpool.

Parking is available in the church parking lot for free.

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

City of Kitchener                  Print                 rain_partner-logos_gcc

WITH FUNDING PROVIDED BY:

Ontario Trillium Foundation

 

 

Here’s a look at how the Hunsberger’s transformed their front yard to be both rain smart and beautiful. They live in Kitchener’s Lakeside neighbourhood that is part of our RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods project.

 

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.

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.

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.”

Alexis:

“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

The home

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.

Neighbours

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 environment

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.

If you live in our RAIN Smart neighbourhoods of Lakeside or Mount Hope, contact us to arrange your own RAIN Coach Consultation.

 

by Daniel Jordan, RAIN Program Volunteer

This post is the second in a series about how Alexis is working towards a RAIN Smart Home.

Alexis and the RAIN Smart Home: Chapter 2

In chapter one, we met Alexis who is going to go through a five step process to reach her goal of having a RAIN Smart Home. These are the same steps that each of us can go through to make positive changes in stormwater management.

5 steps to a RAIN Smart Home

Step 1 – Thinking of Water

Some collaboration is needed to implement stormwater management best practices. That is where Reep Green Solutions can help.

There are small things you can do, like installing rain barrels, and larger projects, such as building rain gardens. Reep Green Solutions can provide RAIN Coach visits for a nominal fee. These visits can give you the extra information you might need to put your plans into action.

Step 2 – Coming up with a vision

Once you have a better understanding of how water flows on your property, you will want to think about your priorities for your outdoor space. Working with a landscaper or designer can be beneficial or, if you are a do-it-yourselfer, get out that sketch book and begin to plan. This is where you can be creative. Build your space to enhance your family’s enjoyment.

Step 3- Taking Action

Some things you might be able to implement yourself, such as installing a rain barrel. Depending on your comfort level, you may want to try building a rain garden. Know your limits and when it is best to bring in a professional.

Finding a contractor who can help you with the work doesn’t need to be daunting. We have a list of a number of businesses that provide storm water management services. This is probably a good place to start. Be sure to get at least three quotes for bigger projects. This will help you find the contractor that works for you.

Step 4 – Involving the Neighbours

Organizing a work party can help bring a neighbourhood closer together. Don’t be afraid to ask your neighbours, even the ones you might not know well, for help. Most people are more than happy to lend a hand, especially if there are snacks and refreshments involved. This will give your neighbours the opportunity to learn about being rain smart too, and who knows, maybe it won’t be long before you are helping at their work party.

Step 5  – REEPing the Rewards

Now that your project is finished, you get to sit back and enjoy it. You will be looking forward to the next time it rains, just so that you can see the fruits of your labour. You will be happy knowing that you did your part for the environment, that you have improved the value of your property and maybe even that you made some new friends in the neighbourhood. Oh, and each time that your water bill comes in the mail and you see that stormwater credit (don’t forget to apply for the rebate) you will be sure to smile. Here’s where to get started in Kitchener or Waterloo.

These are the steps that Alexis will be taking over the next few weeks. We encourage you to come along! Follow her through this journey, as she works towards a RAIN Smart Home.

We held an event this week to celebrate people living in two Kitchener neighbourhoods who are interested in having homes that are ready for rain.

What follows are the remarks of Patrick Gilbride, RAIN Program Manager, on the importance of collective action and the project’s next steps.

Thank you for a successful start

Thank you everyone for coming, especially to those of you from Lakeside who have braved crossing the LRT divide to make it here tonight. Thanks in particular to the Guelph Street Community Gardeners who are our hosts this evening and to Juanita, Trent, Trevor, Emily and others who have helped guide our activities in Mount Hope. Thanks also to Ted Parkinson, who after the prize draw, is going to say a few words about community action in Mount Hope.

Before we draw the grand prize winners I wanted to provide some context on the contest. The Front Yard Makeover contest was the first stage in our Rain Ready Neighbourhoods project. REEP Green Solutions is an environmental charity and social enterprise that is committed to helping people live sustainably. This is the reason we have sought out projects that are not only good for the environment, but good for the community. We have a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to provide supports and incentives to two Kitchener neighbourhoods to take action to reduce stormwater run-off and improve the neighbourhood’s capacity to handle large storms and other effects of climate change.

The two neighbourhoods chosen to participate in this project were selected from many of our City’s vibrant neighbourhoods. They were chosen because they have a demonstrated history of community action, engagement with stormwater issues, and for their opportunity to make a positive impact on our urban water system.

Over the past month we have been active in Lakeside and Mount Hope promoting the contest. We have an indefatigable team of summer staff and volunteers that have been reaching out to people at their homes, meeting them at the local CSA, and striking up conversations on the sidewalks. Our team have been promoting the contest, but most importantly learning as much as possible about people’s desires for their neighbourhoods.

The importance of collective action

One theme that we keep hearing over and over is that of collective action.

People in Lakeside and Mount Hope already do things collectively. You just need to look around you at the gardens and the rainwater harvesting system behind me to see the evidence. When we were interviewing one of the Mount Hope finalists, Wayne Miedema told us how, when we were experiencing drought conditions a few weeks back, he would fill up containers of water from his own rain barrels and pull them by wagon over to the gardens. And it wasn’t just him – that’s just one example of the collective work that quite literally bore fruit. He proudly showed us some of the fist-sized garlic harvested from the gardens.

What are the next steps?

The team was also frequently asked, what comes next?

First – coaching for homeowners in these two neighbourhoods. Our RAIN Coach will help navigate homeowners through their options and help you to decide how best to take action to manage rainfall and achieve their ideal landscapes. The 10 finalists in each neighbourhood will be the first to have consultations with our RAIN Coach, but this will open up to everyone in Mount Hope and Lakeside come 2017. Our RAIN Coach, Becca couldn’t be here tonight as she is in Seattle, but is excited to get started next week.

Second – financial incentives to help you implement the solutions you and the Coach come up with. We have been talking to many of you over the past few months, and your insights will help us design the incentives and plan next steps in your neighbourhoods. We plan to announce the amounts and eligibility criteria for incentives later this year. If you have not already, please let us know so you can be notified when these become available.

Third – a chance for you to dig in and get some experience through work parties in your neighbours’ yards. The first of these will be at the homes of the contest winners, but we are interested to support anyone who is interested to host a work party on their property. If you want to host a work party at your home, please let us know and we will be in touch.


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