COQUITLAM, B.C., May 3, 2022 – Coquitlam has made significant headway in the first year of implementing its new plan to address climate change in the community.
Adopted in late 2020, the City’s Climate Adaptation Strategic Plan (CASP) evaluates the potential risks to civic services, infrastructure and residents from climate change – such as flooding, heatwaves and wildfires – and sets out actions and timeframes for addressing them. In a recent update to City Council, staff reviewed the CASP’s accomplishments from 2021 and planned activities in 2022.
Implementing the Plan
Climate change is bringing hotter summers, more rainfall and major storms that affect not only residents, but the City’s ability to provide services and maintain infrastructure. As the weather becomes more unpredictable, sudden floods, storms, heat waves, wildfires and other perils place significant and unexpected demands on City resources.
The actions in the CASP address the seven greatest projected climate change risks to Coquitlam: drought, inland flooding, coastal flooding, drinking water shortages, wildfires, storm events and heat waves.
The work aligns with the City’s new Environmental Sustainability Plan, which will help guide City decision-making with consideration to climate action, the built environment, waste management, water management, and natural areas, wildlife and habitat. The activities will also be integrated into a new Climate Action Plan, a priority from the Environmental Sustainability Plan that is currently in development.
Progress in 2021
Work on priority CASP initiatives in 2021 included:
- Updating storm sewer design criteria to accommodate extreme weather;
- Developing the Enhanced Water Conservation Strategy;
- Starting to implement new measures to ensure new developments manage rainwater in a way that protects watersheds;
- Taking steps to monitor the health of natural ecosystems;
- Preparing multiple civic facilities to be activated as cleaner air spaces when air quality is poor; and
- Progress on addressing wildfire risk including updating the Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan and participating in the Northeast Sector FireSmart Program to reduce wildfire risk in homes and neighbourhoods adjacent to forests and natural areas.
Some other long-term, ongoing priorities in the CASP are being implemented through normal City operations, including delivering the City’s 12 Integrated Watershed Management Plans.
Work Plan for 2022
CASP work taking place this year includes:
- Ongoing flood preparation work, including advancing the Lower Mainland Flood Management Strategy in collaboration with the Fraser Basin Council and other municipalities;
- Developing a process to systematically monitor the urban tree canopy (made up of all trees in Coquitlam on private and public land);
- Improving the City’s wildfire preparations and response capacity through the updated Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan;
- Protecting more vulnerable residents from extreme heat and poor air quality by improving access to cooling centres and cleaner air spaces, through City preparations and collaboration with partners;
- Beginning to implement the Enhanced Water Conservation Strategy, including a pilot statistical water metering program and identifying locations to use groundwater for irrigation; and
- Exploring backup power options for civic facilities for when power failures occur.
After adopting the CASP, the City created a multi-departmental team to guide its implementation. The team’s initial duties included creating processes for tracking progress on actions, and conducting research to develop key performance indicators (KPIs) for the City’s overall climate adaptation efforts.
New KPIs that will help the City monitor progress on the CASP include:
- Numbers of visitors to cooling centres and cleaner air spaces
- Maintaining minimum water system pressure at critical locations
Additional KPIs will be considered over time as the CASP is rolled out.
Coquitlam’s Commitment to Climate Action
Coquitlam is committed to taking action on climate change by promoting practices that reduce greenhouse gases, conserve energy and improve resilience both at the City and within the community.
Coquitlam’s Climate Adaptation Strategic Plan augments more than a decade of City climate action. This has included signing the Climate Action Charter in 2007, advocating for the world’s governments to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, using low carbon and energy efficient technologies in civic buildings, and initiating programs such as monitoring energy use in buildings, staff education, energy-sharing systems, LED lighting and a growing “Ecofleet” of electric, hybrid and right-sized vehicles.
The City also fosters climate action in the community by establishing energy efficiency requirements through the BC Energy Step Code for new building permit applications, energy efficiency rebate programs, adopting anti-idling regulations and a growing electric vehicle charging network (see www.coquitlam.ca/evcharging). For more information about the City’s climate action work, visit www.coquitlam.ca/climateaction.
Coquitlam’s Environmental Sustainability Plan
Coquitlam finalized an Environmental Sustainability Plan (ESP) in January 2022 that will guide decisions and ensure the long-term resiliency and sustainability of the community. The Plan is organized into five themes: Climate Action, Built Environment, Waste Management, Water Management and Natural Areas, Wildlife and Habitat. The implementation plan includes a final list of 135 actions along with a Top 10 list of priorities for 2022. Learn more about the ESP at coquitlam.ca/enviroplan.
City of Coquitlam