Environment

Learn how to get involved with stewardship activities and find out what the city is doing to reduce its environmental impact.


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Programs and initiatives

We offer a number of resident-led stewardship programs and initiatives that cover different types of environmental improvement. This document highlights our activities over the past year (PDF).

Find instructions on getting involved below. 

Adopt-a-road

Adopt-a-Road is a program for volunteers to clean up garbage along roadways in Waterloo.

We ask your organization to commit to two yearly cleanups for a minimum of five years. We supply leaders with mandatory training and supplies. Your efforts will be recognized with a sign along the adopted road section.

Information on which roads can be adopted through the City of Waterloo's program is available below. For regional roads in Waterloo, contact Region of Waterloo transportation.

Download the program guide (PDF) for full details. Complete the online application form to get started.

Apply online

Bee City

The City of Waterloo is recognized as a Bee City due to our efforts to support native pollinators and their habitat. We do this through education and community stewardship on municipal parkland. Visit Bee City Canada to learn more about the program.

The Pollinator working group is a volunteer body that works with city staff to provide educational and stewardship activities relating to native pollinators and their habitat.

Upcoming events

Sign-up online to receive email notifications one week prior to each community stewardship activity.

Join the Pollinator Working Group

As part of the group, volunteers oversee initiatives including:

  • plan and deliver community stewardship activities that create and maintain native pollinator habitat in parks
  • educate the community about the importance of native pollinators
  • celebrate native pollinators during International Pollinator Week 

If available, volunteer openings will be posted on our volunteering page in January each year.

For more information, view the working group's terms of reference (PDF) and volunteer position description (PDF).

ClimateActionWR

We're involved in a partnership called ClimateActionWR to develop a community-scale greenhouse gas inventory, action plan and reduction target for Waterloo region. Other partners include REEP Green Solutions, Sustainable Waterloo Region, the Region of Waterloo, the cities of Kitchener and Cambridge and the local electric utilities.

For more information visit ClimateActionWR.

Community vegetable garden

Gardens are located at local parks and public spaces, and run by a team of volunteers. If you're interested in connecting with a new garden or volunteering please contact gardens@waterloo.ca or call 519-886-1177 x 27253. 

Community gardens: 
Eastbridge Sunset Community Garden
Heasley Park Healthy Harvest Community Garden
Patchwork Community Gardens - EMS Site
St. Moritz Park Community Garden

More information on community gardens in Waterloo Region website.

Laurel Creek Citizens' Working Group (LCCWG)

LCCWG is a volunteer group that works with the city to provide educational and stewardship activities that relate to local waterways. Events such as wetland planting and stream cleanup run from May to October every year. See the Partners in Parks section below for detailed activity descriptions.

Upcoming events

Check our events page for upcoming activities, or sign up online to join the LCCWG contact list.

Join the working group

General responsibilities include:

  • participating in meetings on the second Thursday of the month from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • coordinating fun, hands-on aquatic activities at local events to educate youth and adults
  • delivering stream stewardship activities once/month on Saturdays from May to October

If available, volunteer openings will be posted on our volunteering page in January each year.

If you're interested in joining, read a sample volunteer job description (PDF) and the LCCWG terms of reference (PDF).

Partners in Parks

This program provides an opportunity to make a difference in your neighbourhood park though environmental improvement activities held from May to October every year.

Download info sheets to learn more about short term park activities:

If you're over 18 and interested in leading an activity, fill out our online form one month in advance of your activity to get started.

We also have long-term opportunities for park enhancement. These generally involve ongoing maintenance throughout the spring to fall for a five year renewable term. Options include:

  • plant and maintain a mulched garden bed
  • plant and maintain a vegetated buffer adjacent to your property backing onto the park
  • mow grass on public green spaces on a regular basis
  • manage an invasive plant species
  • install a little library or community message board
  • other special projects upon request

Our long-term Partners in Parks information is being re-developed. Please contact stewardship@waterloo.ca with questions and application information.

Yellow Fish Road

We partner with Trout Unlimited Canada on the Yellow Fish Road program. Volunteer participants paint yellow fish symbols beside road storm drains and distribute educational materials to homes in the surrounding area.

Watch: introduction to the Yellow Fish Road program (2:39)

By participating, your group can help protect local water bodies by creating awareness about stormwater pollution. The program runs mid-April until the end of October and is geared to ages seven and up.

To get started, complete the following:

  1. Review Waterloo's Yellow Fish Road activity information sheet (PDF)
  2. Use our online form to book your painting kits
  3. Download, fill out and submit the volunteer agreement form (PDF)

Annual events

Each year we help organize community events to improve the local environment. Most take place in the spring, with community plantings taking place in the fall. For a complete list of environmental events, visit our events page.

20 Minute Makeover

See the difference 20 minutes can make when we work together in the spirit of Earth Day. On Friday, April 26, 2019, step outside at 2:00 p.m. to clean-up litter around your Waterloo business or school property.

Schools in Waterloo can register for clean-up supplies (maximum 50 pairs of cloth gloves and some bags per school). Supplies are limited to be more environmentally-friendly, we encourage schools to consider asking students to bring a gardening gloves, winter gloves and grocery bags from home.

Beginning in February until April 16, teams of 10 or more are invited to complete our online form to register their cleanup and receive free supplies.

Earth Day Community Cleanup

Celebrate Earth Day as we work to remove litter from public parks and trails in Waterloo during our annual city-wide cleanup from April 26 to 28, 2019.

Find a park in Waterloo using our interactive park map before you apply. Complete our online form by April 16 to register your clean-up in a city park and receive free supplies and support.

Community plantings

We work with various groups and organizations to coordinate community plantings in September and October in public parks in Waterloo.

Check back in 2019 for more details on how to get involved.

Earth Hour

The city joins with other local organizations and millions worldwide by participating in Earth Hour - a worldwide movement that encourages individuals, communities and businesses to turn off non-essential electric lights for one hour as a symbol of commitment to the planet.

Visit the Earth Hour website for details on the next event and how to take part.

K-W Earth Day

The tree planting activity has been rescheduled to Saturday May 11 from 9 a.m. to noon. Bring out your family to plant a tree at Bechtel Park to help expand our urban forest.

Follow the signs to tree planting site near the playground, just past the leash free dog park. Participants must wear closed-toed footwear and cloth gloves. Glove are provided or bring your own.

No registration is required to participate.

Corporate conservation initiatives

We're involved in a partnership called ClimateActionWR to develop a community-scale action plan to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent. Other partners include REEP Green Solutions, Sustainable Waterloo Region, the Region of Waterloo, the cities of Kitchener and Cambridge and the local electric utilities.

For home and business energy conservation programs, visit Waterloo North Hydro's website.

Energy consumption and emission reports

Under Ontario's Green Energy Act, we are required to report the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from city operations. Note that not all city activities are listed in this template, only those that impact consumption and emissions. The next report, for 2017, is due by July 1, 2019. Completed reports include: 

City facilities

Under our green building policy, all new or renovated city facilities larger than 5,400 square feet must be at least LEED silver certified. The LEED building rating system measures a building's environmental performance.

Wherever possible, we also retrofit our buildings to improve efficiency. In 2013, council approved over $4M in improvements to Albert McCormick Community Centre, Waterloo City Centre (city hall), RIM Park Manulife Sportsplex and the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex.

Other notable building projects include the green roof at Waterloo City Centre and the GreenLab at RIM Park Manulife Sportsplex. The GreenLab also uses a water recycling system that harvests rain from artificial turf fields for use on natural grass. It includes a pavilion that aims to educate the public on environmental best practices.

Supporting documents

City vehicle fleet

We operate more than 250 vehicles and pieces of equipment that help us deliver city services.

To reduce our impact on the environment we're moving toward a fleet that consumes less fuel, water, electricity and oil. Projects in this area include:

  • using diesel engine technology that conforms with the Environmental Protection Agency regulations requiring reduced sulphur content
  • providing financial contribution to the University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team
  • installing of EMDEC computer software to reduce fuel usage by tracking consumption trends 
  • purchasing electric and hybrid vehicles