>> City of Vancouver Country Lanes Initiatives


The densification of our communities, and the paving of our streets and alleys, all lead to an increase in impervious surfaces in urban areas. This prevents the ground from absorbing rainwater and replenishing the water table, and means that during heavy rains the storm water drainage system is overwhelmed by large volumes of run-off. This results in erratic volumes of discharge into city streams and nearby marine areas. It also results in the contamination of storm water run-off with sewage because of the presence of combined storm and sanitary sewage systems in many parts of the city.

The City of Vancouver is undertaking a number of steps to address these problems. First, all storm water and sewage systems are being separated as they are rebuilt in order to avoid overflow contamination. In addition, numerous initiatives are being tested and implemented to reduce run-off into the storm water system itself. The Country Lane Pilot Project is one of these initiatives.

Creating a country lane is straightforward, although more expensive than traditional lane paving. First, existing pavement if present is removed, and a solid but water permeable substrate is laid down. Next, a rock/soil mixture is layered on top. This mixture maintains cohesion as a driving surface, and provides the soil necessary to support plant growth. A honeycomb-like plastic matrix is embedded in the rock/soil mixture in order to protect the grass and soil from being compacted and to allow access for large vehicles such as garbage trucks and fire engines. Finally, narrow driving strips, usually formed from poured cement, are laid out.

Country lanes reduce impermeable surfaces in city alleys and reduce run-off into the storm sewer system. They also provide several additional benefits:
  • they help to replenish the local water table;
  • they create an attractive and inviting “rural” aesthetic, and
  • the narrow driving strips encourage drivers to reduce vehicle speed.



For reviews and discussion of country lane projects, visit the City Farmer country lane profile at:

For further information on the City of Vancouver Sustainable Streets program, visit the city web site at:

Category: Storm Water Management
Project: City of Vancouver Country Lanes Project
Contact: Wally Konowalchuk, Project Manager
Phone: 604-873-7387
E-mail: wally_konowalchuk@city.vancouver.bc.ca