COQUITLAM, BC, July 8, 2020 – Plans for improving sustainable transportation, reducing waste and curbing greenhouse gases – top issues for Coquitlam residents – will be among the focus areas of the City’s first environmental strategy.
Coquitlam is making progress on its Environmental Sustainability Plan (ESP), which will bring a cohesive approach to City environmental initiatives and ensure that future decisions support the community’s long-term resiliency and sustainability.
In the coming months, the extensive feedback and information collected over the past year will be distilled into a draft plan, to be presented for public feedback in early 2021.
Focusing on What’s Important
Coquitlam’s ESP will be built around five themes – climate action; the built environment; natural areas, wildlife and habitat; water management and waste management – and reflect information from staff workshops, a review of City policies and plans, best practices research, Council input, and two months of public consultation that included an online survey and 16 in-person stakeholder consultation sessions.
More than 1,100 surveys were completed last fall by people of all ages from throughout the city, revealing that the top environmental issues for residents are: waste management; fish, wildlife and habitat; sustainable transportation (e.g. electric vehicles and walking/cycling infrastructure) and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction.
About 3,400 suggestions were made about how the City could advance environmental sustainability – many of which are already in place or in development – with the common ideas including:
- Climate action: Sustainable transportation, alternative energy sources such as solar, and incentives to support climate action;
- Built environment: Enhanced public transit routes, walking/cycling infrastructure and energy efficient buildings;
- Natural areas, wildlife and habitat: More protection/enhancement of parks and natural areas, requirements to retain and replace trees, and tree-planting initiatives;
- Water management: Enforcement of watering restrictions, improved water conservation education and watercourse protection; and
- Waste management: Expanded curbside and depot recycling options, operational improvements and more waste reduction education and support.
The public also said the City could help them achieve a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle with more investments in sustainable transportation, more options for recycling and waste reduction, and more education, communication and promotion.
Next Steps For the ESP
In early 2021, the draft ESP will go through a second round of public consultation and be reviewed by an external environmental sustainability expert. After any necessary refinements are made, an updated draft is expected to be presented to Council in early 2021 and a final draft by mid-2021.
More information about the project is available at www.coquitlam.ca/enviroplan and on the public consultation page at www.letstalkcoquitlam.ca/enviroplan.
Building on Existing Environmental Efforts
The City has pursued a variety of initiatives over the years to protect and enhance the environment. Coquitlam signed the Climate Action Charter in 2007 and strengthened that commitment in December of 2019, when Council endorsed a motion calling on all levels of government around the world to act with more urgency to lower GHG emissions.
Recently – with the support of the federal Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program – Coquitlam added six more electric vehicle charging stations around the community for a total of 13 City-owned stations, and will be adding another five stations by next summer. Most of the stations accommodate two vehicles at once.
The City’s Strategic Transportation Plan has also brought significant improvements to transit, walking and cycling amenities since it was adopted in 2012. Today, about three-quarters of Coquitlam residents live within easy access of pedestrian zones and bicycle routes, and transit use has grown by more than a third in recent years.
Other green activities include the City’s growing “Ecofleet” of electric, hybrid and fuel-efficient compact vehicles, development of a Climate Adaptation Strategic Plan, and reduced energy use through energy-sharing systems, LED lighting, programmable thermostats and waste heat recovery systems. These efforts support Coquitlam’s goal to reduce corporate GHG emissions.
The City also promotes energy conservation to the community, including energy rebate programs and tips for residents and businesses. More information is available at www.coquitlam.ca/climateaction.