On October 7, 2013 “Depave Paradise” trainees from Calgary, Kingston, Peterborough, Mississauga, and Ottawa gathered in North Bay, Ontario for an unusual purpose. Armed with pry bars and shovels they joined a team of local volunteers to pry up 300 square feet of hard grey pavement across from City Hall and replace it with an oasis of trees and native plantings.
Removing asphalt and concrete by hand at neighbourhood workbees like this one is an exciting new trend driven in large part by concerns over the impacts of stormwater on our cities and streams. Instead of percolating into soil, hard surfaces mean high volumes of rainfall speed into storm sewers that pour directly into local waterways, often causing flooding, erosion, and contamination from dripped fuel and antifreeze residues, road salt, cigarette butts and more. Depaving allows rain to infiltrate the soil, where this type of contamination can be filtered out.
Depave Paradise is a project of Green Communities Canada and a network of member organizations and local partners that have been supporting community depaves since 2012. To date over 5,400 square feet have been depaved at sites in Toronto, Kingston, Hamilton and Collingwood. Support for these initial depaves came from the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, the Metcalf Foundation, and the Echo Foundation.
Now thanks in part to a generous $50,000 contribution from the RBC Blue Water Project, five new Depave Paradise events are planned over the coming year. Hosted by local Green Community member Greening Nipissing, North Bay’s depave served as a hands-on training where partners from those five communities learned how it’s done. RBC Regional Vice President Lauri Petz was also on hand to lend her support, along with a team of enthusiastic RBC employee volunteers.
For more information:
Beth Jones, Green Communities Canada, 705-745-7479×152, firstname.lastname@example.org