The goal is to be a growing city with a shrinking footprint.

Has Coquitlam succeeded?

Amid a boom that increased Coquitlam’s population by approximately 35,000 in 13 years, the city has managed to achieve some significant environmental progress.

Per capita water use is down, garbage diversion is up but greenhouse gas emissions – a category that is largely outside the control of a municipality – continues to be a challenge.

Greenhouse gas emissions

They didn’t rise by much but, between 2007 and 2020, greenhouse gas emissions in Coquitlam ticked up from 638,887 to 642,549 tonnes of CO2 equivalent – about half of one percent.

However, given that the city’s population swelled by approximately 25,000 in that period, Coquitlam has experienced a 17 percent drop in GHGs on a per capita basis.

The decline is largely attributable to concentrating growth in compact, transit-oriented communities, facilitating more active transportation and restoring natural habitat, according to the city’s environment manager Caresse Selk.

The city’s contribution:

While the numbers are skewed due to city centres operations being curtailed due to COVID-19, Coquitlam’s corporate emissions fell from 6,738 to 5,521 – an 18 percent reduction from 2007 to 2020. The drop is largely attributable to the city adding electric vehicles to its fleet and making city buildings more efficient. Selk cited the Thermenex HVAC system at Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex as an example.

“This low-carbon, high-performance HVAC system reuses heat and energy on-site resulting in significant reduction in energy cost and carbon emissions,” Selk wrote.

The next plan:

A draft of Coquitlam’s forthcoming environmental sustainability plan aims for a 45 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2030.

Water consumption

As a community, Coquitlam’s water consumption rose by 4.1 percent between 2010 and 2020, from 18.9 to 19.8 cubic metres of water.

Over that same period, the city’s population grew by about 29,000 people. Per capita, water use dropped nearly seven percent – from 273 to 254 litres per capita per day.

Diversion rate

The city’s diversion rate rose from 52 percent in 2010 to 71 percent in 2020.

The improvement is due to several factors, including more items being accepted for curbside recycling and the introduction of food waste to the green cart, according to Selk.

Access to food

Selk listed community gardens, Inspiration Garden, and the Coquitlam Farmers Market as initiatives that increased access to food in Coquitlam over the past decade.

Related: Port Coquitlam vs. environment goals