Environment

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


On this page

  1. Programs and initiatives
  2. Annual events
  3. Corporate conservation initiatives

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 group of adult volunteers that work with city staff to provide educational and stewardship activities relating to native pollinators and their habitat.

Upcoming events

  • no upcoming events

Sign-up online to receive the Pollinators working group's spring newsletter and email notifications one week prior to each community stewardship activity.

Join the Pollinator Working Group

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 519-747-8772. 

Community gardens: 
Eastbridge Sunset Community Garden
Heasley Park Healthy Harvest Community Garden
Patchwork Community Gardens - EMS Site
Clair Hills Community Garden

Coming soon - Lakeshore North Community Garden

More information on how to get started with community gardens in Waterloo view our toolkit.

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.

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

The City of Waterloo delivers Trout Unlimited Canada's Yellow Fish Road™ program.

Program participants paint yellow fish symbols beside road storm drains and distribute brochures to nearby homes in Waterloo, creating awareness about stormwater pollution that enters road storm drains and flows directly into streams and ponds untreated.

The program runs mid-April until October and is geared to youth ages seven and up. The painting activity can include an interactive 30 minute presentation about stormwater pollution offered by the City of Waterloo. Help teach residents to keep storm water clean by carrying out a Yellow Fish Road™ painting activity in your neighbourhood. 

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

To get started:

  1. Review Trout Unlimited Canada's resources below
  2. Review City of Waterloo's Yellow Fish Road™ activity information sheet
  3. Use our online form to book a painting kit

Yellow Fish Road™ resources:

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 24, 2020, step outside at 2:00 p.m. to clean-up litter around your Waterloo business or school property.

This unique team building opportunity is a great way for residents to show they care about their community and the environment. Encourage your team to go green by bringing your own gardening gloves and bags from home.

Beginning in March until April 21, teams of 10 or more can register online to receive free supplies.

To see past businesses and schools that have participated in the 20 Minute Makeover, view our environment awareness and stewardship summary.

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 24 to 26, 2020. Organize a community cleanup in your neighbourhood park by following these steps:

  1. Find a park in Waterloo using our parks directory page
  2. Beginning in March until April 21, register your park cleanup online.
  3. Review the safety guidelines (PDF) with group participants.
  4. After your cleanup, complete our online results form for garbage pick-up.

To see past organizations that have participated in the Earth Day Community Cleanup event, view our environment awareness and stewardship summary.

Community plantings

During September and October we work with various groups to plant native trees, shrubs and wildflowers in public parks. For more information on hosting an event, review the community planting handout in the Partners in Parks section.

Get involved! Get to know your neighbourhood park, meet new people and help make Waterloo a greener community by planting a tree.

During events, city staff provide direction and supply tools, gloves and refreshments. Consider bringing your own water bottle and gardening gloves. Wear closed-toe footwear and appropriate clothing for natural conditions. Those under 18 years must be supervised by a parent or guardian.

Stay tuned for event details on community planting events taking place next fall.

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.

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 report for 2018 will be posted in July 2020.

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