Vision and Volunteers Sustain Stewardship at UCM

Building sustainable communities is foundational to the Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga’s (UCM) mission. In addition to providing a safe and inclusive space for people of all backgrounds and beliefs, UCM has embarked on creating an inviting, sustainable outdoor space that builds climate resilience, supports local insects and wildlife, and educates and delights members and visitors.

In 2011, UCM joined Credit Valley Conservation’s (CVC) Greening Corporate Grounds (GCG) program after identifying several environmental goals for their property. Reducing water use, planting native plants and increasing urban canopy cover were UCM’s top priorities. Working closely with Carole Berry, chair of UCM’s Greening Initiative, GCG developed a sustainable landscaping plan to meet their needs.

Timing is everything

The timing couldn’t have been better. UCM was in the process of finalizing plans for a parking lot retrofit, providing architects (and UCM members) Cathy Tafler and Doug Rylett the opportunity to work with CVC’s water resources specialists to enhance the new lot with green infrastructure. Together, with the volunteer services of licensed engineer Bill Notenboom, they transformed an existing drainage depression into a bioretention cell that filters and infiltrates runoff from the parking area to improve water quality and prevent flooding.

Before and After: UCM’s bioretention cell a home for local wildlife and insects.

In addition to the parking lot retrofit, GCG and UCM’s dedicated team of volunteers undertook the ambitious project of naturalizing a berm made of construction fill from their recent on-site building renovation. The berm, now home to local birds, bees and butterflies, beautifully hides the parking area that would otherwise be seen from the main chapel.

Sustained commitment to stewardship

UCM is a thriving urban oasis thanks to the long-term vision of Carole Berry and the hard work of her volunteers. They have continued to enhance the property by installing native woodland and pollinator gardens, a rain garden, and an alternative lawn demonstration site. These projects not only improve the local environment, they serve as inspirational and educational tools for homeowners looking for alternatives to turf grass and sustainable ways to manage stormwater on their own properties.

To maintain the sites, UCM schedules guided maintenance events with GCG for the spring and fall. They also work with CVC’s Conservation Youth Corps (CYC) each summer to maintain the bioretention cell, which provides local students with the opportunity to learn about stormwater management while completing their volunteer hours.

Learn more about UCM’s greening initiatives and their April 4 Seedy Saturday event .

To start planning your sustainable landscaping vision or to book an event, email us or visit

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