City employees from the Infrastructure and Operations Department, and Lakehead University students, worked together in 2016 to create new public green infrastructure spaces to manage runoff and alleviate localized flooding and pollution in the McVicar Creek watershed.
“When most of us think of City infrastructure we think of roads, bridges, buildings and sewers,” says Gail Willis, City of Thunder Bay Engineering Technologist and Chair of EarthCare’s Water Working Group, “Green infrastructure is about naturalizing the urban landscape to allow more rainwater to soak into the soil by creating natural areas, green roofs, parks, rain gardens and engineered wetlands.”
Hard surfaces, such as roads, sidewalks and driveways, do not allow rain water to soak easily into soil in urban environments. Runoff flows down the street into sewers that pour directly into our creeks and rivers. Oil from our cars and trucks, road salts, gravel, litter and other chemicals can negatively impact our waterways without green infrastructure in place.
Green infrastructure provides economic, social and environmental and health benefits as well, such as groundwater recharge, stormwater retention, reduction of sewer overflows, improved energy efficiency, biodiversity and marketability of buildings.
McVicar Creek has been under the microscope and has been the subject of several studies and restoration projects in past years. Due to its proximity to our recreational trails, the creek continues to be disturbed.
Recognizing the importance of green infrastructure benefits in our community, the City received funds from Environment Canada to build several green infrastructure spaces within the McVicar Creek watershed. Lakehead University students received funds from Ministry of Environment and Climate Change for new vegetation and community involvement. “We anticipate a high success rate for this green infrastructure site” said Sara Cockhill, a Lakehead University research assistant, “the overall experience of the project was very successful. We had over 30 volunteers from Lakehead University, local high schools and community members who felt very accomplished by planting and cleaning up the McVicar Creek.”
For more information on McVicar Creek restoration plans and EarthCare Thunder Bay, please visit www.thunderbay.ca/EarthCare or visit us on Facebook – earthcaretbay.