Kids bundle up as schools turn down heat

Coquitlam district taking the initiative as Fortis asks B.C. residents to conserve natural gas

School District 43 is telling parents to bundle their kids up for colder classrooms because heat is being turned down to conserve natural gas.

A letter was sent out to parents advising them that the district will be turning temperatures down to 19 C instead of the usual 20.5 C.

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The move is being made to conserve natural gas as Fortis BC struggles with reduced capacity because of a pipeline rupture north of Prince George.

But one parent wonders if colder schools are good for learning.

“My daughter mentioned it was chilly,” said the parent, who asked that her name not be published because her daughter goes to a small school.

Tuesday was the first cold day, when temperatures dipped to 0 overnight, with a high of 4 C and the mom said she sent along an extra sweatshirt in her daughter’s backpack, just in case.

Colder temperatures at night might mean it takes longer to warm up the school but a letter from Superintendent Patricia Gartland posted to the district’s website (, said reducing temperatures would remain in effect until the situation is fully resolved.

“We suggest that all staff and students bring an extra layer of clothing to accommodate this reduction in temperature,” the letter states.

Although Enbridge has repaired the pipeline, it is operating at a limited capacity, which means the province’s natural gas supply could be challenged during times of peak demand this winter. Fortis is asking people to lower their temperature set points, shorten showers and take other initiatives to ensure there is enough gas to meet winter needs.

Spokesman Sean Beardow welcomed the SD43 initiative because it’s a large natural gas consumer and any savings can be put towards storage for the very cold days.

“When you put together a number of these institutions, [if they reduce by] just a couple of degrees, when you add all of that it does make a difference.”

During the last 2017/18 school year, SD43 spent nearly $1 million on natural gas in payments to Fortis BC.

For more information about Fortis and the natural gas situation, visit

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