Would ‘tree canopy’ bus shelters work? UBC students want to find out

Students want to build at least three shelters to measure their effectiveness

An artist’s concept handout image shows the proposed shelters and their intended use. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tabinda Shah)

Students at the University of British Columbia are hoping to build bus shelters with environmental benefits.

Tabinda Shah, a final-year urban forestry student, said she and several other students are working to build a “tree canopy bus shelter,” which would not only shelter people from the rain as they wait for their ride, but also help the environment.

READ MORE: Okanagan wildfires have potential to become firestorms, says UBC expert

“The aim of the project is to bring ecologically conscious infrastructure into dense urban areas by maximizing opportunities for green infrastructure in small spaces,” she said in an email.

The roof or shelter would be made of treated wood that can withstand the elements and host a layer of plants that are hardy and succulent, and can thrive in not just the rain but the dry months too. The excess water from the roof would run off into the ground to recharge the water table.

The students are crowdfunding the project and want to build at least three bus shelters to measure their effectiveness. Shah said each shelter costs about $50,000, and the team is hoping to have a prototype shelter built by sometime next year.

Daniel Roehr, associate professor at UBC, said while the team does not have any arrangement with the City of Vancouver or the transit agency, they do have permits to build three structures on the UBC campus.

Shah said Vancouver is a very walkable city, but that hardly anyone wants to walk in it during the winter because of a lack of pedestrian shelter from the rain.

“Being an urban forestry student, I wanted to bring a multifaceted solution to the table that would not only increase walkability in the city, but also create habitat space, more sustainable stormwater management and a biophilic city,” she said.

Roehr said Vancouver has a number of green roofs but most of them need to be irrigated, so one of the main design aims of these tree canopy bus shelters was that they would be self-sufficient.

Roehr and Shah are working with a team of other students from different disciplines on the shelters.

“We have flow devices to measure rainwater runoff from these roofs and how effective they are,” Roehr said. “We want to monitor it. And if it is effective we can use it all over the city — we could use it on all bus shelters.”

Shah said this will be the first type of bus shelter to measure how much rainwater is runoff. She added that such bus shelters are important because they are one more step towards tackling climate change.

The prototype and research will help justify whether a larger investment into such an idea would be worth it, she said.

“We’re hoping to have the prototype constructed along Wesbrook Mall at the University of British Columbia, but in an ideal world, we would want these all over the city street networks of Vancouver,” Shah said.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Liberal Party candidate for the North Coast Roy Jones Jr. will hold virtual face-to-face meetings for North Coast communities on Oct. 18. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
BC Liberal Candidate Roy Jones Jr, will meet constituents virtually

Face to face conversations will be held on Oct. 18 for North Coast communities

The rockslide occurred just east of Firvale before Snowshoe Creek (photo submitted)
Heavy rain causes mud, debris on Highway 20

Environment Canada had issued a rainfall warning on Thursday morning

Phillip Tallio with his supporters Marie Spetch and Robyn Batryn. (File photo)
Appeals trial begins for Phillip Tallio, convicted of killing toddler in 1983

Tallio was 17 at the time of the 22-month-old toddler’s death

Subsea fibre optics running from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and and then south to Vancouver will improve high-speed internet connection options for Coastal Communities, CityWest said on Oct. 13. (Black Press Media)
Subsea fibre optics running from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and and then south to Vancouver will improve high-speed internet connection options for Coastal communities, CityWest said on Oct. 13. (Black Press Media)
CityWest to refresh subsea fibre optics project

Fibre optics project to run cable from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii then south to Vancouver

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. sees record-breaking daily COVID infections with 499 new cases over weekend

Two people, both in the Lower Mainland, died due to the virus over the weekend

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Most Read