The Residential Pledge offers solutions for a healthier environment. Click the logo below to learn how you can help!

We all live in a watershed. As a resident of your community, you can become a community Eco-partner by pledging to make a few changes in your daily routine. Even a little less pollution at each home can make a big difference. If you live in the Victoria area - when you take the pledge we will provide you with a Community Eco-Partner house plaque or decal to recognize your efforts.

Click on image to take the Childrens' Pledge

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The pledge consists of the following categories:

1) Cars and Roads

2) Lawn and Yard Care

3) In Your Neighbourhood


Stormwater is run-off from residential, commercial, and urban areas. Within your neighbourhood, a system of pipes underground has been designed to prevent water from flooding on paved (impervious) surfaces. Rainwater flows off neighbourhood streets, driveways, yards, roofs, and decks before entering an area such as Rock Bay and the Victoria Harbour. This means heavy metals, oils, fertilizers, antifreeze, pesticides, yard wastes, litter, and animal feces that accumulate within neighbourhoods, are then transported to the Inner Harbour. Therefore, pollution from your home and yard is washed down the storm drains and delivered to a local waterway. This pollution is known as Non-Point Source Pollution (NPS) because it enters a receiving environment from dispersed or poorly defined sources.

Environmental testing within Rock Bay has identified elevated concentrations of copper, lead, mercury, zinc, oils and fecal coliform, which are transferred from our roads and neighbourhoods to the waterway. This means a small amount of pollution from residential homes and yards leads to a large pollution problem.

A problem arises when water absorbs toxins, disease-causing bacteria, heavy metals and other pollutants en route to being discharged into marine or fresh waters. Even in small quantities, persistent substances such as pesticides and PCBs are toxic to humans, plants and animals. When toxins used around the home enter the surrounding environment, fish, wildlife, and humans can experience reduced fertility, genetic deformities, and immune system damage with an increased incidence of tumours, and in some cases death.

When there is an increase in green space and a decrease in paved areas in the watershed, more water can be absorbed into the ground. When the water is absorbed into the ground, the soil and plants can naturally filter the water while replenishing ground water.

By pledging to change a small aspect of your daily activities around the home, you will be taking a step towards improving the water quality of an area such as Rock Bay and the Victoria Harbour.

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Cars and Roads Pledge

Motor vehicles contribute significantly to direct and indirect pollution of waterways. An indirect effect occurs when pollution from vehicle emissions entering the atmosphere are eventually returned to waterways. Vehicles have a direct effect by being in contact with paved surfaces and are a major source of copper, lead, zinc cadmium and other metals. Leaks of fluids, or the washing of a car on a paved surface leaves contaminants on roadways and parking lots. Fluids such as oil and antifreeze on their own are a concern, but as the fluids come in contact with the internal components of an engine they absorb heavy metals, and other harmful compounds. Therefore, fluids from a vehicle contain many harmful ingredients.

In 1990, Canadians dumped 300 million litres of used motor oil in the garbage or down the drain, the equivalent of 8 oil spills like the 1990 Exxon Valdez spill off the coast of Alaska (GVRD, 1990, from Source to Sea).

To ensure that used oil is recycled, BC law requires all sellers of lubricating oil to accept used lubricating oil in quantities up to 20 litres per person or larger quantities equivalent to the maximum size of containers of lubricating oil sold on the premises.

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In Your Neighbourhood

Many products used around the house and in the neighbourhood are considered to be hazardous, having labels containing the words “Danger”, “Caution”, or “Warning”. Cleaners, paint, and solvents are commonly used around the home are regarded as toxic. By not properly disposing of toxic products, the toxins end up in the local urban streams and marine environment.

Some of these products may not evaporate or rapidly decompose and remain in the environment for a long time. A small amount of toxic material from many homes can create a large pollution problem, especially when the contaminants accumulate and are combined in the environment.

Biodegradability means that the product can be recycled by nature, or be broken down into its smallest parts through the actions of microorganisms. Most products biodegrade and attention should be given to what products biodegrade into and how long of a time period will it take to biodegrade. Just because something biodegrades doesn’t mean it’s safe! Some products biodegrade into chemicals more harmful to the environment, and can take 50 to 500 years to biodegrade. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the labels when purchasing products.

Children are more susceptible to pollutants in and around the home because they have a smaller body size, they are in an early developmental stage, they often play on the floor or lawn in an exploratory behaviour, and they put many objects in their mouth.

Pet waste in the neighbourhood is often overlooked. Pet droppings contain harmful bacteria, which spread rapidly within an aquatic environment. When pet waste washes into the stormwater system it ends up in the harbour and can take up large amounts of oxygen when it decomposes. This threatens the lives of other plants and animals.

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Lawn and Yard Care

The more impervious or paved your yard is, the more run-off is delivered to the urban stream and marine environment. When the ground is pervious, water is able to absorb into the ground and a natural filtering system can clean the water and slowly release it into the aquatic environment.

Many people use chemical fertilizers as an easy way to ensure a vibrant green colour, but quick release fertilizers, and weed and feed products provide a heavy dose of fertilizer that may be beyond the needs of your lawn. With excess watering, the chemicals on the lawn may not feed the grass but may instead be washed off or leached into aquatic environments. If you must fertilize your lawn, slow release organic fertilizers are an option less likely to cause contamination. Or just leave your grass clippings on the lawn as an inexpensive and harmless way of fertilising your lawn.

Recent trends in lawn care include the use of lawn space to provide natural habitat for local wildlife. This means transforming lawns into native ecosystems. Using native plants result in less maintenance and less use of herbicides and pesticides. Planting and growing native plants has many benefits, such as drought tolerance, and attracting local wildlife to pollinate plants.

Using herbicides and pesticides in the garden can be toxic to wildlife, pets and humans. It is possible that herbicides and pesticides can have a negative effect on bacteria and organisms such as earthworms, ultimately reducing the growing capacity of the soil. Alternative methods such as companion planting, and biological control methods have proven to be just as effective, or more effective than the application of synthetic herbicides and pesticides.

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