Rain gardens like this one have been built on several streets in Willoughby in recent years. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Rain gardens like this one have been built on several streets in Willoughby in recent years. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Rain gardens a trash-filled hazard, says Langley resident

Locals asked Township council to remove the environmental features

Some Willoughby slope residents came to Township council Monday to complain that the “rain gardens” in their front yards are a hazard to children, pedestrians, and are filling up with trash.

“These rain gardens have ruined the aesthetic experience of our neighbourhood,” said Sonia Singh, who lives near 205th Street in southern Willoughby.

A rain garden is an alternative to a simple ditch and is intended to allow more water to filter back into the ground in relatively dense single-family housing neighbourhoods. They are placed between the streets and sidewalks.

Created over the past few years in Willoughby, they are described as a “gently sloped channel filled with topsoil and plants,” according to the Township’s website, allowing “about 30 per cent more water to soak into the ground than a regular lawn.”

Drains carry away excess water when the topsoil is saturated.

Singh said she and her neighbours are upset that the rain gardens are difficult to maintain, but are the responsibility of home owners.

Residents cleaning out the rain gardens have found used surgical gloves, beer cans, and condoms. The gardens appear to be home to rodents, she said.

She also argued that neither home builders nor realtors made buyers aware that they would be responsible for the upkeep of rain gardens.

The Township’s website has a list of suggestions for maintaining the gardens:

• pick up litter

• mow grassy strips

• remove dead plants and broken stems

• remove weeds

• check for erosion in the rain garden channel

• clear sediment and debris from cobbles and in front of drainage pipes

• apply a layer of topsoil or compost to planted areas as needed

• water new plants and remember to water all plants as needed

The gardens are difficult to maintain, Singh argued, hazardous to children because of their depth, and take up space on narrow streets. The plants in them make it difficult to see oncoming vehicles, she said.

She suggested they should be filled in to allow the streets to be widened for more parking.

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