Environment

Learn how to get involved with community programs and events that focus on improving the environment. Find out what the city is doing to reduce its environmental impact.


On this page

  1. Community programs in parks
  2. Annual environmental events
  3. Corporate conservation initiatives

Community programs in parks

You can get involved in these community programs throughout spring, summer and fall. This document highlights our activities over the past year (PDF).

Find instructions on getting involved below. 

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.

Please take the Canada-wide Pollinator Protection Pledge!

Many pollinators are facing hard times in Canada and around the globe, but they can live and prosper in our yards if we protect their habitats. Protect pollinators and join Canadians across the country in taking the Bee City Canada Pollinator Pledge! And then spread the word on social media and track your progress using #PollinatorProtector.

Waterloo's Pollinator Working Group

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

Check our events page for upcoming online activities or sign-up online to receive our annual 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).

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 garden or having a garden plot, please see the Community Garden Council of Waterloo Region Directory. If you are interested in a new garden or volunteering please contact gardens@waterloo.ca and view the toolkit below for more details.

Eastbridge Sunset Community Garden

Heasley Park Healthy Harvest Community Garden

Patchwork Community Gardens - EMS Site

Clair Hills Community Garden

Lakeshore North Community Garden

Vista Hills 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.

Short-term stewardship activities

Get involved in your neighbourhood park by organizing a one-time community stewardship activity between May to October.

Short-term stewardship activities include:

If you're over 18 and interested in organizing an activity, fill out our online form for a short-term stewardship activity one month in advance.

Long-term park projects

Long-term opportunities for park enhancement generally involve ongoing maintenance throughout spring to fall for a three to five year renewable term. 

Plan your project now with these timelines:

  • January 31 for a spring or summer project (May 1 – August 31)
  • May 31 for a fall project (September 1 – October 31)

Follow the below steps to submit your projectel:

  1. Select a project of interestel:
  2. Review the Partners in Park program guide (PDF)
  3. Contact stewardship@waterloo.ca to discuss a new idea or if you have any questions

Apply for a long term park project

Community plantings

During September and October we work with various groups to plant native trees, shrubs and wildflowers in public parks. This is part of our community planting program.

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, supply tools, and gloves. Bring your own water bottle, wear closed-toe footwear and appropriate clothing for natural areas. Those under 18 years must be supervised by a parent or guardian.

Thanks to the following groups for hosting a fall community planting in 2021:

  • Vermont Park Neighbourhood Association for planting large trees in Vermont Park
  • Pollinator Working Group and community for planting a wildflower meadow at Bechtel Park
  • Laurel Creek Citizens Working Group and community for planting stream buffer in Westvale Park

Together, we are greening our community one step at a time! Stay-tuned for future planting opportunities next fall.

Annual environmental events

Each year we help organize community events to improve the local environment. For a complete list of environmental events, visit our events page.

Earth Day Community Cleanup in a park

Due to the provincewide emergency stay-at-home order, all community events, including Earth Day Community Cleanup in a park are cancelled for April 2021. 

The city is still celebrating Earth Day at home! Here are some ways you can celebrate on Earth Day, and throughout April:

  • Earth Day Canada 
    Earth Day on April 22 - we each have our own way of taking care of the planet, what is yours? View the #EarthDayAtHome webpage for ideas on how you can take care of the planet from home.
  • City Nature Challenge 
    April 30 to May 3 – explore nature in your own backyard. Take a photo of as many plants, animals or other life and share your findings using iNaturalist. Nature experts will give feedback on the species you have identified.
  • Step outside this April and take a close look at the trees on your property. Can you spot any tan, fuzzy egg masses attached to sheltered areas on tree trunks or the underside of tree branches?  Learn more about how you can help stop the spread of Gypsy moth caterpillars. Watch the video on our Trees and Yards page.

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.

Pollinator Festival

In keeping with the Region of Waterloo Public Health directive for social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we have cancelled the 2021 Pollinator Festival that takes place the 3rdSaturday in June annually. Check our Bee City webpage to learn how to get involved in our community with pollinator initiatives.

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 2020 will be posted in July 2021.

Completed reports (PDFs) 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