Victoria’s city planners are unveiling an innovative way to deal with anticipated wetter winters and drier summers in the coming years.
A new park at Fisherman’s Wharf, expected to open Oct. 2, features a rain garden — a stream-like gully full of shrubs that captures rainwater runoff from the surrounding area and cleans it before draining to the nearby ocean.
“This rain garden allows nature to do its job,” said Roy Brooke, Victoria’s director of sustainability.
“Any toxins like lead, copper or zinc will get absorbed by the plants in the rain garden, and will help keep the Inner Harbour cleaner for all of us.”
The new park includes sitting areas, green space and a walking bridge over the rain garden.
Small hills were created to avoid the unnecessary expense and impact of shipping tonnes of soil out of town, said parks manager Doug DeMarzo.
“The cement wall (surrounding the rain garden) actually represents the footprint of the old harbour as well,” DeMarzo said of the $650,000 renovation that began in April.
Rain gardens already exist in several public and private areas of the city including Trent Street, Oswald Park and The Atrium.
But Fisherman’s Wharf park’s 352-square-metre garden is the largest to date, collecting grey water from more than 14,000 square metres in the surrounding area.
“We’ll definitely be seeing more,” Brooke said, adding the city is planning to create a storm water utility in 2014 that will provide incentives to developers to include rain gardens in their plans.
While residents initially called for a running stream in the park, engineers determined it was not worth disturbing the contaminated soil at a deeper depth, DeMarzo said.
Howard Markson, a nearby St. Lawrence Street resident, said the park renovation is a deluxe improvement on the previous field.
“It’s got an environmental payoff, too,” Markson said. “I think it’s beautiful. I love it.”
The grand opening will take place Oct. 2 from 11 a.m. to noon.