Editorial: Have a say in Coquitlam's environment plan

City of Coquitlam is asking residents about climate change action and other environment issues in an online survey

Coquitlam residents have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape the city’s future when it comes to reducing carbon emissions.

Climate change effects are already being seen in extreme weather, droughts, torrential rains leading to mud slides in our creeks and rivers, and a noticeable reduction in salmon returns and some bird species.

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So now is not the time to quibble about whether we are facing a climate emergency. We are.

Councils may or may not choose to declare a climate emergency but all cities have come to the realization that they must do something to ensure the long-term resiliency and sustainability of their communities.

Thus, the city of Coquitlam is asking its citizens to complete an online survey at coquitlam.ca/enviroplan, to help create a “flexible framework to help guide future decisions.” 

This Environmental Sustainability Plan and survey is no window dressing, or green-washing, Coquitlam has to adapt and it will take a clear vision — and money — to make it happen. Those who don’t participate in the survey can’t complain when it is introduced.

The city of New Westminster, meanwhile, offers some perspective in how climate change can be addressed and what it may cost. Earlier this year, an analysis of upgrades to capital assets found that an additional $650,000 per year might be needed because making changes to reduce carbon emissions, such as electrification of the vehicle fleet, would cost money.

But aside from those direct expenses, which may or may not come to be, the city set out what it considers to be a bold seven-step plan to reduce carbon emissions, and Coquitlam may be looking at some or all of these types of things.

Among the steps New West is planning include achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030, accelerating a car-light community with 60% of all trips in sustainable modes (such as walking or cycling), an increase to the urban forest canopy, encouragement of pollution-free vehicles, carbon-free homes and buildings, with requirements that new and replacement heating and water systems be emission-free, and the establishment of a smart electrical grid for building and vehicle electrification.

The may seem like a grand plan but may be necessary to ward off the worst effects of climate change. And while Coquitlam has already made steps to reduce carbon emissions, the next phase of the plan will likely affect taxpayers directly. The plan being considered will take into account climate action, water management, the built environment, natural areas, wildlife and habitat, and waste management.

This is where you come in. As residents, you will want to have a say in how this carbon-free future is carried out. So don’t delay, fill out that survey soon because the deadline is Nov. 30.

If you believe the city must have a plan in place to deal with climate change, make sure you have a say in what that plan should be.

 

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