Coquitlam will do its part to save the planet.
On Monday (July 12), city staff laid out a draft environmental sustainability plan that — if green-lighted by council this fall — would focus on 120 action items for the municipality to tackle over the coming years.
The peer-reviewed report, which breaks down the targets into five broad themes covering environmental, economic and social benefits, includes work that civic staff are already doing as well as new goals set to begin next year.
The document further breaks down the objectives into 10 priorities, to begin in 2022-23, based on short-term need, funding and community interest:
- create a new climate action plan
- develop a carbon offset reserve fund policy
- start an electric mobility strategy
- implement the BC Energy Step Code requirements
- design a single-use item bylaw
- start the enhanced water conservation strategy
- boost education to prevent watercourse pollution
- expand outreach about residential storm water
- organize an urban forest management plan
- measure tree canopy cover percentages
Among the new goals is a move to cut greenhouse gases (GHG) by 45% by 2030, and to be carbon neutral by 2050 — bringing Coquitlam in line with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the federal government and Metro Vancouver (the B.C. government has lower targets).
Last year, the city saw an 18% reduction in corporate GHG emissions from civic buildings, its vehicle fleet and operations while the per-capita community GHG emissions have risen 1% each year since 2007; vehicle transportation and building emissions account for 94% of the community’s carbon pollution.
Jaime Boan, Coquitlam’s general manager of engineering and public works, said the draft plan — budgeted to cost $150,000 — was two years in the making.
And a public consultation will be held this fall before council considers the final version (a previous outreach gleaned more than 3,400 comments).
“It is a very comprehensive plan that’s going to set the mark for Coquitlam and is going to take us boldly forward,” Boan told council-in-committee on July 12.
During the 90-minute discussion, Coun. Craig Hodge, the vice-chair of Metro Vancouver’s zero waste committee, said the draft plan matches with “the goals of everybody else, which I think is what our residents want and where we should be going.”
And he pressed for stronger language in the plan, given the unprecedented events happening with the environment such as the recent heat dome, which resulted in the deaths of about 500 British Columbians, as well as interior wildfires.
Hodge also asked for wording in the draft document to require electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure in new single-family homes.
Coun. Chris Wilson applauded city staff for producing a “clear, specific and concise” action plan; however, he said, it lacked information about cycling paths around schools, EV chargers and anti-idling measures.
“Climate change will be more expensive than COVID,” he warned, while urging the city to bid on senior government grants. “This is going to cost a lot of money over time and the sooner that we start, the better.”
Coun. Bonita Zarrillo also pressed for stronger wording in the document.
But city manager Peter Steblin suggested a more conservative approach, as the first version of the draft plan “had more extreme language and targets that many people in the administration thought were unachievable.”
“It was a conscious effort to actually have a little bit of a leeway in some of the targets,” he said.
Still, Coun. Brent Asmundson, a member of Metro Vancouver’s water committee, said residents have to realize the region is facing pressures to grow, and “trade-offs are needed to achieve that” to accommodate the housing crunch.
He also noted Coquitlam’s tree canopy has increased since the 1980s and the city’s GHG emissions are lower than other B.C. municipalities.
Asmundson also called on the provincial government to step up with its own green targets and incentives.
• Coquitlam’s draft environment sustainability can be found at www.coquitlam.ca/enviroplan.