In Tofino we get roughly 3 m of rainfall every year. Unfortunately, how that rain water travels through our community and its watershed has been dramatically altered by our urban development. When rain lands on hard impermeable surfaces like roads, driveways, and parking lots it can pick up and mobilize pollutants. The highly toxic chemicals, like hydrocarbons, pesticides, and heavy metals that are commonly found in runoff are easily transported from roads to neighbouring streams and wetlands. These chemicals significantly affect water quality and contribute to the degradation of wildlife habitat.
Rain gardens are designed to help filter runoff and protect sensitive streams and wildlife habitat. A rain garden will have a slightly concave shape to encourage water to pool in the middle; this is where plants and soil have the opportunity to retain water and filter out pollutants. The soil in a rain garden is composed of mostly sand and organics, giving it a high infiltration capacity.
A rain garden was constructed and planting was completed in the rain garden and within the riparian zone of Centennial Creek in 2016. The Wickaninnish Elementary School Grade2/3 class helped to plant the rain garden and riparian zone with conifers including: Western redcedar, Sitka spruce and Western hemlock. The kids helped plant native shrubs and herbs such as salal, evergreen huckleberry, red huckleberry, sword ferns, deer ferns, bracken ferns and false-lily-of-the-valley. In total 330 shrubs and herbs were planted at the Centennial Creek restoration site.