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Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

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St. Nicholas School

Staff and the Parent Teacher Association at the St. Nicholas School in Newmarket were looking for a low cost solution to providing a shaded play area for the youngest students in the school. The solution included adding trees and removing some of the paved surface without disturbing stormwater runoff. A rain garden was added to the space and a creative, safe, healthier play area resulted.

Achieving sustainability goals while lowering maintenance costs  

Many schools, health agencies and places of worship work to ensure our environment is protected from pollution. However, with more hard and paved surfaces and less natural spaces, storm sewers are often overloaded during heavy rainstorms and snowmelts, and pollutants are washed into nearby rivers and Lake Simcoe. LID features can help achieve sustainability goals by increasing natural cover, cleaning up stormwater before it reaches rivers and streams and reducing the threat of localized flooding.

To keep up with the rising costs to maintain our current stormwater management systems, municipalities are starting to introduce stormwater utility fees and transition to a more sustainable network that includes LID. Institutions that add LID to make their properties more sustainable often receive lower stormwater utility charges. 

Rain and snowmelt can be also stored on site and used for irrigation and interior grey water functions.

How did St. Nicholas School benefit from LID?

  • Environmental messaging – ties in well with the school curriculum
  • Expanded projectwith the success of the project in the kindergarten play area, an additional project was completed involving rehabilitation of a similar problem area. All students can now enjoy these useful spaces. 

What was the responsibility of the school?

The school was responsible for leading grant writing, hosting meetings, connecting operations and parent teacher association together, and building new partnerships with external groups, including future First Nation involvement.

Lessons Learned from the project

  • Work with the school team - school administration, operations staff, teaching staff and parents engaged to gain full support for the project.
  • Tie the project to the curriculum – each area ties in with different phases of the curriculum, so play areas meet the needs of different students at different times in their elementary academics.
  • Engage with external partners – worked with both the Town of Newmarket and Evergreen Canada's relationship with the York Catholic District School Board to design and implement various aspects of the project.
  • Get the kids involved safely – planting the gardens gives the kids ownership in the project and builds momentum to the next project.