City Parks Stewards Project

In 2019, Evergreen, with support from Environment and Climate Change Canada, operated the City Parks Stewards Project in the City of North Vancouver to combat the spread of invasive species and increase local capacity for environmental restoration. Since 2003, the City Park Stewards, a volunteer program in partnership with the City of North Vancouver, has worked to protect and restore nature in the city. The program has played a key role in advancing the City’s environmental restoration and stewardship goals while also providing opportunities for volunteers to connect with the City’s natural areas and with other community residents.

The City Park Stewards Project aims to restore North Vancouver’s natural areas from the degradation caused by increased recreational use from a growing population, variable stream flows and bank erosion, garden waste dumping, and threats to biodiversity like invasive plants. Vancouver is expected to experience a number of climactic changes, from increased temperature and precipitation, to more extreme weather events, heatwaves, sea level rise, all of which can impact the health of natural environments and biodiversity. This program is supported by committed volunteers, many of whom have been involved since the project’s inception and continue to participate in multiple events each year.

The City Parks Stewards Project has evolved over time and has contributed to the City’s comprehensive Invasive Plant Management Strategy, as well as engaging community members in the stewardship of the City’s ecologically, culturally, and socially significant parks. In 2019, 12 annual stewardship events took place co-hosted with the City of North Vancouver. Additionally, with support from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s EcoAction Fund, 32 additional events were also held in 2019 including workshops, interpretive walks, youth events, and more, culminating in a total of 44 events engaging 924 citizens, the removal of 400 cubic meters of invasive plants, and the installation of 3 346 native trees and shrubs across nine City parks.

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

In 2013, the City of North Vancouver developed a Climate Change Adaptation Plan identifying climate risks and impacts the City is likely to experience as a result of climate change. The City participated in ICLEI Canada’s Building Adaptive and Resilient Communities (BARC) program. The program’s five milestone framework leads cities through the process of developing, implementing, and monitoring a climate adaptation strategy, with a focus on reducing risk throughout the community.

Climate projections were supplied by the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Plan2Adapt Tool and Environment Canada. Climate risks included:

  • Increased year-round temperatures
    • much warmer summer temperature
    • warmer winter lows
  • Precipitation change
    • Increased intensity
    • Wetter falls and winters
    • Drier springs and summers
    • Less Snow
  • Extreme events
    • Increased extreme heat events
    • Increased extreme precipitation events
  • Sea level rise

Following the BARC framework, these projections were used to inform a series of workshops attended by an interdepartmental team of City staff and external agencies. The workshops consisted of direct consultations  and surveys to identify potential climate impacts, assess vulnerability, and assess risk across six sectors: Health and Safety, Local Economy and Finance, Community and Lifestyle, Parks and the Environment, Infrastructure and Buildings, and Land Use. The geographic and socio-economic distributions of impacts were also considered, especially where the consequences are expected to fall disproportionately on vulnerable populations.

The District of North Vancouver’s Invasive Plant Management Strategy identifies the social, ecological, and economic impacts of invasive plants, including impacts on human health and recreation, the destruction of native ecosystems and disruption to ecosystem function, as well as the degradation and loss of productive land and damage to infrastructure and property. Additionally, the Strategy identifies over two dozen invasive plants of concern within the District as well as their general impact.

Identifying Actions

Evergreen’s work spans a number of subjects, including community building, conservation, housing, outdoor learning, transportation, urban agriculture, and climate, with a mission to make cities more liveable, green, and prosperous. The City of North Vancouver’s Climate Adaptation Plan, Parks and Open Space Strategic Plan, and Invasive Species Management Plan all outline actions to identify and manage invasive species in City green spaces and to educate and build the capacity of local residents to undertake climate action in their communities.

The Invasive Species Management Plan outlines a number of objectives and actions to help combat the spread of invasive species. These include increasing public awareness through public education and communications campaigns, preventing new invasive plants from establishing and spreading, detecting where invasive plants are growing, controlling the spread of invasive plants, and restoring natural habitats.

The City Parks Stewards Projects plans 12 regularly scheduled monthly events as part of its annual programming, with an additional 32 events planned with the support of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s EcoAction Fund in 2019.


City Park Stewards events in 2019 included Earth Day, Rivers Day, National Tree Day, Plant and Play, and more. Evergreen partnered with elementary and secondary schools, community groups, businesses, and new funders, resulting in the expanded engagement of new Canadians, families, children and youth and community members to support programming and reach in the community. These events focussed on identifying and removing invasive vegetation such as blackberry and holly and planting native trees and shrubs. Among the signature and large-scale events that Evergreen co-hosted in 2019, the Plant and Play event at Moodyville Park attracted the most community volunteers. This may be due to a combination of factors, including increased advertising and promotion with the opening of the new park playground; engagement of school-based and corporate volunteers; and neighbourhood residents walking by the event or living by the park who also became interested in volunteering.

In addition to the 12 monthly scheduled events, Evergreen and its community partners hosted an additional 32 events with the support of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s EcoAction Fund resulting in an additional 43.5 hours of stewardship, education and youth programming. Highlights include:

  • Pollinator Workshops at the Edible Garden Project, where participants installed native plants and were encouraged to plant their own pollinator-friendly gardens at home.
  • Youth Stewardship events where youth participants learned the importance of pulling invasives to help restore healthy ecosystems.
  • Interpretive Walks where new Canadians learned English terms for invasive and native plants found in parks and the important role parks play in the City.
  • School climate Adaptation Workshops where students at participating North Vancouver schools learned about climate adaptation and the role native trees and shrubs play in the City.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

The City Parks Stewardship Project met and exceeded its 2019 targets displayed in the table below:

Targets Achievements
Stewardship & Restoration Events 11 12
Additional Events 22 32
Citizens Engaged 600 924
Youth (0-18) Engaged 400 412
New Canadians Engaged 100 123
Volume of Invasive Plants Removed (m3) 400 400
Native Trees & Shrubs Planted 400 3 346
Partnerships 15 20

Additionally, the program results in 2,192 hours volunteered and over $30,000 in volunteer-in-kind contributions and progress for this project year has been mapped for visual representation in the City of North Vancouver’s AlienMap GIS system.

Volunteer feedback was collected through an annual volunteer survey to monitor progress and to help determine the future direction of the project. Volunteer feedback was doubled from the previous year, significantly increasing the data on the City Park Stewards Project’s community impact. Results from these surveys reveal a strong trend in the volunteers’ interests and priorities, why the City Park Stewards Project has been a success for so long, and potential new opportunities for Evergreen and the City of North Vancouver to consider. For example, the survey data indicate that among the project’s long-term volunteers, there is a strong preference for the monthly invasive removal events over the community-wide planting events.

Questions asked in the survey included:

  • In the last year, how often did you volunteer with City Park Stewards?
  • If you volunteered with the City Park Stewards more than once, what made you want to volunteer again?
  • How has volunteering with the City Park Stewards impacted you?
  • What do volunteers like about the City Park Stewards Program?
  • Did you participate in our Earth Day, Rivers Day, National Tree Day, or Plant and Play events in 2019? If so, please describe your experience or provide any feedback that you may have.
  • Do you prefer planting events or invasive removal events?
  • Do you have any suggestions for new ideas to improve the City Park Stewards program?
  • Do you have any suggestions for improving City of North Vancouver Parks?

Of note, 100% of City Parks Stewards felt they have made a difference to local parks and community, 92% of City Park Stewards have told others about Evergreen, and 75% of City Park Stewards have a greater understanding of how removing invasive plants helps to restore natural habitats.

Next Steps

Since 2020, the City Parks Stewards program is managed by the City of North Vancouver. They continue to provide public stewardship and restoration activities, including invasive removal events, native tree and shrub planting events, and educational parks workshops.