by Clara Blakelock, GCC Coordinator of Water Programs
RBC announced funding of $100,000 to the Green Communities Foundation for Depave Paradise on RBC Blue Water Day (4 June).
RBC made the announcement (above) at the site of a Depave Paradise event hosted by GreenUP in Peterborough in 2014. A garden of native plants now thrives in a site in front of a downtown men’s shelter that was once covered in uninviting asphalt. In a two day event, volunteers removed 62 square meters of asphalt, replaced it with soil and mulch, added rain barrels to collect runoff and planted native plants. The garden now absorbs and filters water instead of letting it run off.
RBC’s generous donation will fund six depave projects at sites in Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa, Peterborough, Kingston, Hamilton and Collingwood.
Depave Paradise takes direct action to raise awareness about the need to repair the broken urban water cycle. Current stormwater management systems are not designed to accommodate the level of extreme precipitation we are now facing, and floods are becoming increasingly common.
Across Canada, our community partners find pockets of unused pavement in cities and organize community workbees to tear it up. Using pry bars and shovels, volunteers remove the pavement and reclaim a small piece of paradise. The gardens and permeable pavement that are installed in place of the asphalt soak water into the ground and filter it through soil and plants, thereby avoiding runoff and pollution and protecting local water bodies.
Added benefits of depaving include reduced urban heat island effect, increased habitat, and the social, health, and economic benefits of increased green space.
Over the past three years, Depave Paradise participants have removed more than 1,000 m2 of asphalt in 10 events. Events have taken place at schools, churches, public lands, community centres, and housing cooperatives. These are high profile events that engage the media, local politicians, and the community.
RBC has generously supported Depave Paradise in the past, and we are thrilled to have their renewed commitment this year. Learn more about Depave Paradise at www.depaveparadise.ca.