Rain garden pilot project underway at RDN administration building

Rain garden pilot project underway at RDN administration building
Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The RDN is transforming a swale into a rain garden adjacent to its administrative building in Nanaimo.

A new rain garden installation is in the works at the Regional District of Nanaimo administration building as a green infrastructure demonstration project.

The RDN is working with North Arrow Landscapes to develop the project with work to begin this winter and to be completed in the spring. An existing swale, there since the building addition was constructed along Hammond Bay Road in Nanaimo in 2010, will be transformed into a rain garden by amending the soil to absorb water more readily, adding native plants and incorporating interpretive signage.

The existing sloped swale was constructed to receive rainwater run-off and divert it toward storm drainage on the RDN property, but would benefit from enhancement, Julie Pisani, program coordinator for the RDN drinking water and watershed protection (DWWP) program and Capri Brugge, the program’s stewardship coordinator, told the Sounder.

In 2023, DWWP introduced a demonstration site & interpretive signage program, which provides up to $5,000 to local governments within the RDN as well as RDN departments, First Nations, stewardship groups and community organizations to install signage or green infrastructure like rain gardens, green roofs and urban tree cover.

The project on the administrative building property is a pilot and is meant to showcase the potential of such infrastructure to be installed on a residential, institutional and commercial scale, Pisani and Brugge said. Located by a bus top along a busy road, the rain garden demonstration will also include upgrading walking paths that connect to the public sidewalk.

With runoff from a large parking lot nearby and more intense rainfall events as an effect climate change, the rain garden will need to be able to manage a high capacity of stormwater. Plants will also need to be adapted to both flooding and drought.

Rain gardens mimic natural hydrological cycles, Pisani and Brogge said, and have a myriad of benefits including recharging groundwater as well as minimizing effects of run-off such as flooding, erosion and water quality. They encourage property owners to consult a landscaper about incorporating rain gardens on areas of their land where rainwater collects or pools.

Landscaping resources are available at www.teamwatersmart.ca. More information on the Demonstration Site & Interpretive Signage funding program is at www.rdn.bc.ca/demonstration-sites-interpretive-signage.

By Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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