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Coquitlam to open civic facility doors for the public if summer air quality worsens

Despite the current low risk for the region, the city says it'll be ready to provide residents with cleaner air to breathe should wildfire smoke become an issue.
The Poirier branch of the Coquitlam Public Library will be used as a clean air space for residents if and when local air quality worsens in the summer. | Greg Salter/Wikipedia

There's a low risk to residents' health from current air quality in the Tri-Cities.

As of this publication (July 9), the provincial index is expected to stay at that rating for the foreseeable future across Metro Vancouver's northeast region, which includes Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.

While the immediate summer forecast is promising, the threat of wildfires is during the season has the potential to worsen local air quality and may leave some without access to cleaner options.

Today, the city of Coquitlam says it's committed to opening its public facilities if and when the air quality becomes too poor this year so residents may be able to find temporary refuge.

In a statement, the city explains clean air spaces have been created in its facilities to reduce the impact of wildfire smoke as it contains fine particulate matter that can irritate the lungs, throat, nose and eyes — a primary concern for residents who experience respiratory or chronic health conditions, those who are pregnant, children and seniors.

This includes:

  • Coquitlam Public Library’s Poirier branch
  • Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex
  • Glen Pine Pavilion
  • Dogwood Pavilion
Air quality index Metro Vancouver - July 9, 2021On July 9, 2021, the air quality index for Metro Vancouver was low, which includes Coquitlam Port Coquitlam and Port Moody in the northeast. By BC Air Quality

"Coquitlam was among the first communities in Fraser Health to take steps to upgrade its facilities to serve as temporary clean air spaces, which are expected to become increasingly necessary as wildfires are becoming more commonplace across British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest," the release goes on to say.

"Upgraded to keep out smoke, the sites will open during times when air quality poses a high health risk to give residents a place to spend a few hours breathing in cleaner air."

The city says additional clean air spaces are also being implemented. However, they're not intended for overnight or extended stays.

When air quality becomes poor, the city will post locations, hours and details on its website and social media channels.

There are no alerts, warnings or advisories for air quality in effect for the Tri-Cities by Environment Canada or B.C.'s environment ministry.

Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody are also currently under a 'HIGH' risk for fires.


The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and Emergency Management BC have issued the following tips in protecting yourself from the impacts of wildfire smoke:

  • Closely monitoring people in your household who may be more sensitive to wildfire smoke
  • Spending less time outside including reducing outdoor physical activity
  • Keeping windows and doors closed at home
  • Keeping vehicle windows closed and setting air conditions to recirculate
  • Wearing a well-fitted respirator or three-layer cloth or disposable mask when outdoors
  • Buying a high-efficiency particulate air filtration system;
  • Seeking respite in public facilities like shopping malls, community centres, swimming pools or libraries
  • Stocking up on medications for respiratory conditions such as asthma