Rethink parking lots and walkways
Parking lots are a lot like deserts. Exposed, hot, inhospitable and increasingly encroaching on our greenspace. Some Canadian cities have lost close to half of their greenspace to parking lots and other hardscaped infrastructure, like buildings and roads, making our cities hotter and more prone to flooding. There’s a growing movement to reverse this trend. Here’s how you can help.
What’s wrong with pavement?
When rain falls on hard surfaces, like roads, parking lots or rooftops, the water runs off rather than being absorbed or captured. It’s directed to a storm sewer which empties into Lake Ontario.
On its journey from sky to storm sewer, rainwater runoff picks up pollutants, like car oil and pesticides. These also end up in Lake Ontario, which supplies our drinking water. If rainfall is heavy, runoff can overwhelm our storm sewer system and cause flooding.
On sunny days, pavement and rooftops absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat, creating heat islands—localized areas where temperatures can be 1-12 degrees higher than surrounding regions.
Hardscapes are also food deserts for wildlife. When we pave a road or parking lot, birds, pollinators and small mammals lose access to shelter and food sources, like trees and wildflowers. Overall biodiversity declines and our cities become less colourful and resilient to climate change.
What can you do about it?
Depaving involves replacing paved areas with greenspace, like pollinator gardens. Start by assessing the paved areas of your property. How much of this space is underused? If more of your staff are working from home, can you reduce the number of parking spaces on your property? Engage staff in brainstorming how these spaces could be transformed to include greenspace that supports cleaner water, wildlife habitat and staff enjoyment.
Your depaving project may offer strategic opportunities to reduce flood risk and your stormwater charge by absorbing and slowing stormwater runoff. We can help you determine the best approach.
Transform your property. Save on stormwater. Connect with us to learn more.
Can’t depave? There are alternatives.
If you can’t depave, there are other actions you can take to reduce flood risk, improve water quality and create habitat.
Retrofit your parking lot with permeable paving. Permeable paving allows water to absorb into the ground where it falls and keeps trucking bays and parking lots free from mud, pooling water and ice. They also have a longer lifecycle than asphalt.
Create a rooftop garden. Green roofs absorb and slow rainwater runoff and low-rise green roofs can provide food for pollinators and birds. If your structure allows, add outdoor meeting space for employees.
Cut out the grass. Like parking lots, lawns don’t provide adequate food or habitat for wildlife, and they cost a lot to maintain. Create no-mow zones and let grasses grow long. Identify areas where you can plant native trees and shrubs or create pollinator gardens. Consider disconnecting your downspout to drain into a rain garden where possible. Book a free sustainable landscaping assessment with us to learn more.
Greening Corporate Grounds can help
We offer free sustainable landscaping assessments and action plans to help identify depaving, habitat creation and stormwater management opportunities on your corporate property. Connect with a sustainable landscaping coordinator to book a free consultation or visit cvc.ca/gcg to learn more or connect with us.