The city officially unveiled their first sustainable storm water site on Saturday. The space is located on what was previously unused land at the corner of Beverly and High Streets.
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Coun. Andrew Foulds knows that after last spring’s flooding the city has to get creative in finding ways of making sure it doesn’t happen again.
One such example of this creativity was unveiled on Saturday, as the city has been at work over the past month building a green space at the corner of Beverly and High Streets that is strategically built towards storm water retention and management
Foulds sees strategies such as this low impact development area being crucial as the city prepares for future heavy rainfall events.
“The reality is doing nothing when it comes to climate change is not an option,” Foulds said.
“We know going forward we’re going to have more intense precipitation events and we simply cannot deal with that by putting more pipes and bigger pipes in the ground. We have to have a thoughtful and comprehensive strategy.”
The site is the first of its kind in Thunder Bay, as it is serving as a pilot project while the city explores the feasibility of different ways to prevent catastrophic flooding.
The green space method is just one part of the city’s strategy, which also features the separation of the storm sewer system from the sanitary sewers.
“This facility will help mitigate flooding issues,” Foulds explained. “It won’t stop them, but it will help with flooding as well as water quality.”
In addition to keeping excess water out of the storm sewers, the site will also trap pollutants and chemicals and keep them out of the storm system, Foulds added.
The project was completed under the $60,000 budget, and was helped along by a $25,000 grant from CN Rail’s EcoConnexions From the Ground Up program.
Attending the unveiling was Ken Fosty, a Tree Canada representative from Winnipeg.
Fosty said the type of the site is something fairly new in Canada, and added the city is ahead of the curve.
“This site is quite unique,” Fosty described. “These trees will provide multiple benefits, not only with the water runoff but as a wildlife habitat and aesthetic beauty and clean air.”
Included inside the site is a bioretention area that has extra-permeable soil designed to absorb water, curb openings to allow water from the street into the area, monitoring wells and an overflow pipe in addition to greenery specifically selected to thrive in the climate conditions.
The site is designed to serve as a retention area for nearly three hectares of surrounding land, and can handle up to an inch of rain.
Part of the reason the site was chosen was for the visibility along Memorial Avenue, as the planners wanted to show off how it also functions as urban landscaping.
The site will be monitored as the city examines how effective the storm water retention is, and just how much water is able to be removed from the storm sewer system.
Foulds hopes to see more of these spring up around the city in the future.
“I’d like to see these all over our community,” he said. “They’re great for our citizens. They beautify and they can walk here. I think this is the way forward in how we deal with climate change, storm water management and beautifying our community.”
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