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Jul 28, 2020 Return to Headlines

Coquitlam Tackles Impact of Climate Change with New Plan

by Sarah Rossi |

COQUITLAM, B.C., July 28, 2020 – Coquitlam has created a plan to reduce the impact of hotter summers, higher rainfall and other consequences of climate change on City services, infrastructure and the community.

Developed over the past year, the draft Climate Adaptation Strategic Plan evaluates the potential risks – including more flooding, drought and erosion – and sets out short-, medium- and long-term actions the City can take to adapt to them.

The draft plan is available for viewing at www.coquitlam.ca/climateaction and will be presented to Council for adoption later this year, along with an implementation plan that will prioritize risks with the greatest impact on the community and resident well-being.

Planning for the Unexpected

As the weather becomes increasingly unpredictable, sudden floods, storms, heat waves, wildfires and other perils are placing significant and unexpected demands on City resources.

Last year, Coquitlam received a $120,000 Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to develop a proactive strategy to address these and other climate change impacts.

The resulting draft plan – based on the latest models and projection data, historical records and local knowledge – ranks the various risks to the City and outlines actions to reduce their impact on drainage systems, drinking water, energy, buildings, utilities, transportation, parks, natural areas, business, agriculture, and resident health and safety.

Taking Action to Address the Greatest Risks

The plan lays out 10 key actions to address the six greatest projected risks to Coquitlam, many of them building on progress the City has already made. They include:

  • Drought: Building more compact and complete neighbourhoods to reduce urban sprawl; ensuring new developments manage rainwater in a way that protects watersheds; and monitoring/improving the health of natural ecosystems.
  • Inland flooding: Updating City storm sewer system design criteria and capacity.
  • Coastal flooding: Developing flood-protection plans to deal with rising sea levels.
  • Drinking water shortages: Enhancing the City’s water conservation strategy; and working with Metro Vancouver on securing safe drinking water sources.
  • Wildfires: Setting up clean air shelters during times of poor air quality; and promoting the use of fire-resistant building materials in fire-prone areas.
  • Heat waves: Exploring measures such as cooling stations and increasing the tree canopy.

Implementation of the strategic actions is planned to begin in 2021.

The Next Step in Climate Action

The new Climate Adaptation Strategic Plan, which will form part of the Environmental Sustainability Plan now in development (see www.coquitlam.ca/enviroplan), augments more than a decade of City climate action.

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 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

City activities to reduce GHG emissions and conserve energy include monitoring energy use in buildings, staff education, energy-sharing systems, LED lighting, programmable thermostats, waste heat recovery systems, and a growing “Ecofleet” of electric, hybrid and fuel-efficient compact vehicles.

The City also promotes energy conservation to the community, including energy rebate programs, tips for residents and businesses, and a growing electric vehicle charging network (see www.coquitlam.ca/evcharging).

Based on these efforts, Coquitlam is making progress towards achieving its target to reduce corporate GHG emissions to 40 per cent below 2007 levels by 2025.

For more information on Coquitlam’s climate change initiatives, visit www.coquitlam.ca/climateaction.