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Letter: Port Coquitlam's budget and climate change — what can be done?

A former city councillor believes PoCo is lucky to be bordered by three rivers, but they shouldn't be taken for granted.
November 2021 flooding across the Tri-Cities included the closure of the parking lot at Gates Park in Port Coquitlam.

The Editor:

On Nov. 8, the people elected to Port Coquitlam council swore in and a new four-year term has begun. 

In a process that feels a bit like being thrown from the frying pan into the fire, council will immediately start working on the city’s budget.

Budgets show what a community prioritizes.

Our city has spent a lot of resources over the last four years on infrastructure projects.

Council built a new recreation centre, increased staffing in the communications and bylaw departments, fixed a lot of roads, built sidewalks, incorporated traffic calming and increased pedestrian safety to name a few.

One of my highest priorities since being elected in 2014 was to find climate solutions that fit our community so that we might reduce our risk. I fought hard during budget discussions to fund a climate plan and finally we did.

Now, our city needs to implement and build on that climate plan and make funding those solutions a priority moving forward.

We know that failing to do so will cost us so much more in the long run.

Our community is very fortunate to be bordered by three beautiful rivers, the Fraser River, the Pitt River and the Coquitlam River, named after the Red Fish and the Kwikwetlem First Nation people whose unceded territory we reside on.

These three rivers and their dikes provide wonderful recreation opportunities for our residents. They also put us at risk from flooding, as our homes and businesses, and much of the downtown area, lies within the floodplain.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. the catastrophic flooding B.C. faced in 2021 cost $675 million, but that is only the cost of insured damages. People living in high flood risk areas, where insurance coverage is not available, could cost all levels of government "well into the billions of dollars."

There is also the loss of human and animal life that we generally fail to quantify as well as untold economic losses. We can however be proactive and plan for the future.

Municipalities and First Nations Communities in BC are winning climate leadership awards and proving this order of government that is closest to the people can be where the opportunities are for positive change.

Within the Tri-Cities, Port Moody is a few steps ahead when it comes to taking climate action. They implemented a climate plan in 2020 and hired four new staff to implement the recommendations in that plan. What a great opportunity to follow their leadership.

All three councils might consider striking a Tri-Cities Youth Climate Committee, which could report directly to those councils with recommendations and input.

This would serve the dual purpose of engaging youth in a meaningful way and allowing for inclusive dialogue on real climate solutions.

It is after all, their future that is at stake.

- Laura Dupont, Port Coquitlam

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