Depave Project Benefits Otonabee/Harper Creek Watersheds

By Heather Ray –

Depave Paradise Kicks Up Dust as Pavement Disappears in Peterborough!  

The dust is starting to settle in Peterborough’s southwest end after the parking lot at local business, Wireless Solutions, underwent a major transformation.

In early October, volunteers gathered at 1774 Lansdowne St. West to transform a section of pavement at the former gas station site into a green oasis during GreenUP’s second Depave Paradise event. 

Being advised that the removal of 250m2 of unused pavement would build community, restore the natural hydrological cycle, reduce risks of flooding, welcome wildlife, and create green space sparked some questions. But being advised that removal of 35 tonnes of pavement by hand and planting over 733 plants – all in less than a week – sparked disbelief.  However, the dedicated team of volunteers, community partners, and organizers of GreenUP’s Depave Paradise event proved that with some muscle and hard work, anything is possible. Approximately, 250m2 of asphalt (35 tonnes) was removed, 733 plants (over 30 species) were planted and two trees have taken root, and many new community relationships have been forged. Now, upwards of 89,000 Litres of rain will be diverted annually.

Shovels and pry bars lay neatly on tip of a blue tarp in the parking lot.
Tools used by volunteers to remove the asphalt and create an urban oasis.
Chunks of asphalt, pried up by hand, stand on edge at the work site
250m2 (35 tonnes) of unused pavement was removed by hand.

After months of planning and preparation, Mortlock Construction kicked off Depave Paradise on Thursday, October 1st by beginning the dusty job by cutting the asphalt. On Friday, October 2nd volunteers from GE, GreenUP, and the community-at-large gathered to help safely remove sections of asphalt and liberate the soil beneath. The team at Drain Bros. Excavating dedicated their Friday evening to making way for fresh soil and the placement of boulders. On Saturday, October 3rd volunteers from United Way Day of Caring, GreenUP, and the Peterborough community participated in landscaping the site and planted two gorgeous trees. 

Volunteers surround a newly planted tree in the rain garden. Each volunteer placed a handful of soil at the roots of the tree.
As a new tree is set into the ground, each volunteer was invited to place a handful of soil around the roots of this future member of our urban forest.

Due to the scope of the project, the event was extended two additional days so that native, low-maintenance plants such as fragrant sumac (rhus aromatic), false blue indigo (baptisia australis), and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) could be planted and the finishing touches made to the rain garden. Along the way many stopped to learn more, lend a hand, and express thanks. Today, many local residents continue to walk past the garden admiring a job well done. 

Pink sedum in full bloom sitting in pots waiting to be planted in the rain garden.
733 native, low-maintenance plants provided the finishing touches to the newly created rain garden.

The creation of permeable space and the planting of the rain garden are going to go a long way in helping to manage stormwater within the Harper Creek subwatershed, clean and conserve water, support pollinators such as bees and butterflies, increase safety within the parking lot, and add needed green space to the area. 


The Depave Paradise event showcases the ability of our community to come together; thank you to everyone who was in involved. This Depave Paradise event has been so successful due to the many volunteers who participated in the event and the volunteer support provided by United Way of Peterborough & District Day of Caring and General Electric.

Fleming Serves! Staff and students from Fleming College line up at the registration table.
Fleming Serves! Staff and students from Fleming College line up at the registration table, signing on to volunteer as part of their ongoing commitment to community. Volunteers participated through the United Way of Peterborough’s District Day of Caring.

Thank you to Sammy and Sons Ltd. and Wireless Solutions, the City of Peterborough, Mortlock Construction, Drain Bros. Excavating, Home Depot, Peterborough Landscape Supply, Rent All Centre, Hartrans, Act First Safety, Rehill Building Supplies, Battlefield Rental Store, Johnny on the Spot, Hansler Smith Ltd., Pizza Factory, Chemong Home Building Centre, Lansdowne Canadian Tire, and Progressive Waste Solutions. 

The Depave Paradise event in Peterborough was made possible due to generous funding from RBC Blue Water Project and the Green Communities Foundation. 

To date, GreenUP and Depave Paradise have removed approximately 325m2 of pavement from the landscape of Peterborough and we are ready to remove more!

If you have a section of asphalt in a schoolyard, an unused section of asphalt in a parking lot, or another asphalt area that could be removed, let us know! 

Before and after photos of the parking lot at Wireless Solutions.
From unused parking to a rain garden in just 5 days!

For more information or to let us know about a potential site please contact Heather Ray, GreenUP Water Programs Coordinator, at heather.ray at greenup dot on dot ca or 705-745-3238 ext 208. 

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