My co-op term at Green Venture as told through Green Infrastructure Projects
My name is Lucas and for the past 4 months, I have worked for Green Venture on the Green Infrastructure team as a program assistant. This is my last week here and as I reflect back on what I’ve worked on and learned over the past few months I feel a great sense of accomplishment and look forward to seeing where my work at Green Venture goes. I decided that the best way to pass on what I learned and talk about my experiences would be through a green infrastructure project for each month I was here.
September: Rain Barrels
When I started in September I was ready to jump into green infrastructure and learn about local solutions to the stormwater issues in Hamilton. Rain barrels can harvest water from your roof and store it for use like watering a garden or connecting to a soaker hose. This helps keep stormwater on your property and prevent stormwater from flowing into the storm sewers. In Hamilton many of the sewers are combined sewers, meaning all stormwater and wastewater flow to wastewater treatment plants and all the water has to be treated. This can lead to backups during large storms. By keeping water on your property using rain barrels and other green infrastructure techniques you can help prevent backup and overflow.
During this month I started working on developing the Catch Basin Ambassador Program. This program was meant to teach Hamiltonians about stormwater and keeping catch basins clean. September was a lot of brainstorming about what the program should look like and research about the sewer system in Hamilton and other catch basin programs in other municipalities. My first few weeks were spent doing research and learning more about Hamilton stormwater and sewer systems.
October: Tree Planting
In October there were some tree plantings and cleanups around mini-forests that had been planted last year. Mini forests are smaller plots where many varieties of trees are planted very densely. These forests can help with carbon capture, managing stormwater, and air quality. One of the mini forests I helped plant was the one at Lake Avenue Park. Mini forests can be done on your own property and are very beneficial for absorbing storm water.
At this point the Catch Basin Ambassadors Program was a course that could be taken online. There was a soft launch for the program on October 19, 2022 which opened it up to the public. Other projects like community plantings, Nature Kids, and volunteer events took over as we rushed to finish up before the weather got too cold.
If you’re interested in Nature Kids the next season will be in Spring 2022 so check in then!
November: Permeable Paving
There was a lot going on in November, but one of the largest things was Bill 23. I chose permeable paving for this month because Bill 23 focuses a lot on development so I figured I’d highlight a green infrastructure project that can be integrated into new development. Permeable paving allows water to flow though it into a gravel bed that allows the water to seep into the ground slowly. It can also slow water going into storm sewers and prevent overflows. There are lots of types of permeable paving, but it is mostly used on parking lots and driveways. Permeable paving is a great way to implement green infrastructure on your property.
November was a busy month with Bill 23, writing primer docs, and getting ready for an in-person Catch Basin Ambassador training. Bill 23 took a lot of my time as I researched it and discussed it with groups such as YSP (Youth Stewardship and Professional Skills Program) and Youth Quake. This also included going to protests at Doug Ford’s office. Primer docs also took some of my time during November. These included a lot of research on road salt, permeable paving, and stormwater fees.
December: Downspout Disconnections
For my last few weeks at Green Venture I figured I’d use downspout disconnections as a metaphor for finishing up work and saying goodbye. Downspout disconnections are actually one of the first things that you should do when considering green infrastructure on your property. It allows you to redirect the water from your roof into your green infrastructure projects like rain barrels or into a rain garden. Downspout disconnections can be done on your own or through the City of Hamilton.
December was busy. There was a youth climate conference hosted by Green Venture youth that I spoke at, an in-person Catch Basin Ambassadors Program course, and getting everything ready for leaving. The Catch Basin Ambassadors Program went smoothly and having that in-person element seemed to really incentivise students to help out. The program also counts as community service hours so students can take the course online and then clean catch basins on their street.
The Future: Naturalization
Adding native plants to your garden can help with stormwater retention and prevent erosion. Naturalizing your yard can clean water before re-enters our waterways and Hamilton Harbour. If green infrastructure projects don’t work for you, naturalization might. There are lots of ways that naturalization can add to your property.
As I prepare to leave Hamilton today after living here for just under 4 months I have found that the community and experiences I have had here are not ones I will forget. I am heading back to school at the University of Waterloo for Environmental Engineering and I will definitely use what I have learned here in my studies and future co-op placements. Moving to a new place every 4 months may seem daunting but for me I find that it allows me to learn about a variety of communities and do interesting work in lots of places. One of my friends put together a Hamilton Bucket List with items such as the Devil’s Punchbowl and the Hamilton Farmers Market. Out of the 50 items listed I got to around 25 of them! I won’t forget my time here and I look forward to visiting in the future.