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Coquitlam school superintendent urges families to conserve gas in B.C. flood recovery

Superintendent of B.C.'s third-largest school district is asking families to "pull together" to ensure essential service workers have fuel to help flood victims recover and maintain critical supply lines.
Gas lineup
Lineup for gas at Costco in Port Coquitlam on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021.

Amidst concerns about gas supplies, B.C.’s third-largest school district is asking families to stick to the 30-litre gas limit and walk, cycle or take transit to school or work.

On Monday (Nov. 22), the superintendent of School District 43 (SD43) sent a letter to parents asking them to respect the province’s two temporary emergency orders.

The orders, including the 30-litre gas limit and travel restrictions on damaged highways, have been in place since last week when floods and land slides cut off roads, disrupted the Trans Mountain pipeline, and destroyed homes and livelihoods.

“I am asking each of us within the SD43 community to do our part and attempt to conserve fuel as much as possible in the next couple of weeks in support of these temporary measures,” stated superintendent Patricia Gartland in her letter.

As many as 32,000 students attend schools in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody and Anmore, and Gartland asked families to consider walking, cycling or using public transit to commute to work or school.

“If you must drive, please consider carpooling while adhering to the current health protocols of hand washing and use of masks,” Gartland further stated.

The school district’s letter follows a call for calm by Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West after some stores were emptied of meat and other supplies and people lined up in their vehicles to purchase gas.

Over the weekend, a number of people posted on Facebook complaints about people purchasing more than 30 litres of gas and hoarding of food while others queried how some people with long commutes would get to work.

And a letter posted to the Tri-City News that called the honour system for the gas restrictions “laughable” was read by thousands of people, and generated more than 500 comments.

Still, others say the furor over gas has diminished somewhat, and people say they have been able to purchase their $50 worth of gas with ease.

Trans Mountain has stated that its pipeline should be back in operation by the end of the week while Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth, B.C.’s minister of public safety and solicitor general, expressed confidence there would be enough gas.

He noted during a press conference on Monday that barges from the U.S. are bringing fuel to B.C.

In her plea for people to stick to Farnworth’s recent orders, Gartland called on parents to “pull together as a community” and reduce fuel consumption “to the greatest extent possible over the short term and support all British Columbians by allowing essential services use of fuel for recovery and supply chain priorities.”