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Letter: Why does Coquitlam cut down the 'lungs of our planet'?

The message is clear: Shade trees reduce temperatures dramatically, the letter writer states.

The Editor:

On Aug. 17, 2023, we measured the temperature on a sunny, exposed street in downtown Coquitlam.

It was 48.9 C (120 F) while on a shady street in Port Coquitlam, it measured 31.5 C (88.7 F) — a striking 31.3 F degrees difference.

The message is clear: Shade trees reduce temperatures dramatically.

This is significant for downtown Coquitlam where some of the most vulnerable live in over-heated one-bedroom condos.

While fires burn across BC and NWT and temperatures reach 34 C in Metro Vancouver, cities continue to approve removal of trees that cool our cities and decrease GHG emissions.

Despite promises by governments that high-rise developments would decrease emissions and lower the price of housing, a two-bedroom condo costs $1 million and most high-rise developments show an increase in vehicle use and consequently increased CO2 emissions.

A case in point: Coquitlam allowed Onni Development to clear-cut a small urban forest to make way for yet another high-rise development. The city removed 78 trees that would have sequestered about 80 tonnes of CO2 in their lifetime.

To make matters worse, almost two years later, Onni has not developed the lot.

The city had assured citizens there would be affordable housing and the trees would be replanted. Even if Onni finally replants, it will take 20 to 40 years for the trees to capture as much CO2.

The cities in Metro Vancouver should, at the very least, leave a copse of mature trees for shade and for our planet.

Trees are the lungs of our planet.

- Yvonne Harris, Coquitlam