Environment

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 we have cancelled the Bee City Pollinator event scheduled for June 20.

Visit our COVID-19 page for a full list of affected services and events.

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.

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).

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
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.

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.

Due to the COVID-19 situation and for the protection of your health and safety, we have suspended all scheduled community stewardship activities until further notice. Please continue to check back for programming updates.

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. These options include:

  • community message board (PDF)
  • community planting (PDF)
  • little library (PDF)
  • 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 (e.g. garlic mustard or Japanese knotweed)

Contact stewardship@waterloo.ca to discuss your idea prior to completing the online application form for long-term park projects.

Timelines include:

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

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.

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

In keeping with the Region of Waterloo Public Health directive for physical distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we have cancelled the Earth Day and 20 Minute Makeover events scheduled for April 24 to 26. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Earth Day Community Cleanup

In keeping with the Region of Waterloo Public Health directive for physical distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we have cancelled the Earth Day and 20 Minute Makeover events scheduled for April 24 to 26. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

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 physical distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we have cancelled the Bee City's Pollinator Festival schedule for June 20, 2020. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

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