Montreal’s new sponge park will retain 1 million litres of rainwater

spongepark rendering
Drainage tree pits will also be built along the length of the park to allow water to infiltrate the soil, local officials announced. Graphic: City of Montreal

Montreal is set to build its largest sponge park ever as local officials aim to increase the city’s square footage of green infrastructure to absorb heavier and more frequent rainfall.

In fall 2023, Montreal announced plans to build 20 sponge parks over two years. The city’s latest park project in the borough of Verdun, however, will cover an area of some 4,300 m² – the equivalent of more than 10 basketball courts. 

Drainage tree pits will also be built along the length of the park to allow water to infiltrate the soil, local officials announced. These features will temporarily retain more than 1 million litres of rainwater, over 40% of the capacity of an Olympic swimming pool, making it the first project of this scale in Montreal. As for the street, it will feature over 305 m² of sponge-like infrastructure in the form of draining vegetated pits.

The Verdun park will rank first among Montreal’s sponge parks, ahead of Pierre-Dansereau Park in Outremont, with a retention capacity of 627,000 litres, and Howard Park in Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension, with a capacity of 624,000 litres. By way of comparison, the green space of Place des Fleurs-de-Macadam on the Plateau-Mont-Royal holds 160,000 litres of stormwater and runoff.

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“At a time when the whole world is confronted with the consequences of climate change, we have a responsibility to implement concrete measures to adapt to this new reality,” announced Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, in a statement. “Sponge infrastructure is part of the solution, as it reduces the risk of flooding in vulnerable areas by capturing as much rainwater as possible, rather than directing it into the sewer system.”

The park will be built near Joseph and Dupuis streets, on land adjacent to the Atwater drinking water plant. Rue Dupuis will be resurfaced with a slight slope towards the park, and passages will be built under the sidewalk to allow water to flow directly into the park. 

Work on this project is scheduled to begin in the next few weeks and be completed during fall of 2025.

“The use of city-owned land, that of the Atwater factory, not only makes it possible to build this new resilient park, which will reduce the risk of flooding, but also to offer local residents quality landscaping, brand-new street furniture and a dog park. A win-win situation!” announced Marie-Andrée Mauger, mayor of the borough of Verdun. “At a time of climate change, the city continues to take advantage of every opportunity to improve its territory’s ability to adapt.”

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