April 9, 2020
Dear Coquitlam residents and businesses:
As we face the uncertain days ahead, you can rely on the City of Coquitlam to continue to do our part – by providing essential services, by protecting public health, by supporting our citizens, and by making sustainable decisions to keep our city strong and resilient over the long term.
The world is a much different place today than it was even a month ago. Typically, the primary job of a city is to provide the essential services the community relies on every day – services such as fire and police protection, water and sewer, garbage collection, road infrastructure and more. While those services continue to be our focus, the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic have necessitated a new focus: doing what we can to safeguard the health and safety of those who live, learn, work, and play in Coquitlam.
Like households and businesses across the community, the City has been forced to rapidly adjust to the new reality we all face. We established our Emergency Operations Centre early on to ensure a coordinated City response in collaboration with other local, provincial and federal government partners. With the health and safety of our residents in mind and to curb the spread of the virus, we’ve had to reduce some services, cancel events and programs, and close recreation centres and other facilities to the public.
While Coquitlam has a strong financial foundation, the closures and operational changes have impacted our budgeted revenue and – like many other communities – have forced us to make some difficult decisions to find operational savings. This includes adjusting the timing of some capital projects to ensure they can be completed cost effectively and safely. Regrettably, this has also included reducing our valued and dedicated staff by close to 800 auxiliary employees who primarily worked in support of our recreation facilities and programs.
We are also taking a close look across our organization to find savings, along with opportunities to minimize the impact on residents and businesses. We moved the utility bill payment deadline from March to September, have put measures in place to support those who still need to do business with the City, and are working hard to see how else we can support Coquitlam’s businesses, our local economy and employment.
We’re also exploring options for tax relief and have joined in a regional mayors’ lobby of the provincial government to expand property tax deferral initiatives. We are considering both the immediate short-term need and the long-term impact on the City’s ability to recover, the services we provide, and the taxpayers who pay for them.
In addition, throughout all of this, we have been working with other agencies and governments, recognizing that we all face similar challenges and can do more together than we can alone.
This brings us to you, and your role in reducing the impact of COVID-19.
With the long weekend approaching and the promise of warm weather, many of us will yearn to get outdoors and to connect with friends and loved ones. You may also have heard from the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) that our efforts in B.C. appear to be having a positive impact.
Those gains could easily be lost if we let down our guard. Although parks and trails remain open for our residents’ mental and physical wellbeing as recommended by the PHO, it is critically important that we strictly follow physical distancing rules when in public and continue to stay home as much as possible. If you do visit our parks and trails, we encourage you to choose less-popular destinations and go at off-peak times. This is a critical time for all of us to work together in these efforts.
The situation continues to change every day, but rest assured that Council is committed to providing ongoing updates to the community as new information becomes available. Watch www.coquitlam.ca/covid19 and our social media channels to stay up-to-date on Coquitlam’s pandemic response and issues that affect us all.
Mayor Richard Stewart
Councillor Brent Asmundson | Councillor Craig Hodge | Councillor Steve Kim
Councillor Trish Mandewo | Councillor Dennis Marsden | Councillor Teri Towner
Councillor Chris Wilson | Councillor Bonita Zarrillo