Port Coquitlam vs. environment goals

The city reduced water consumption and increased the diversion rate but struggled to cut GHGs

As Port Coquitlam takes input on its forthcoming climate action plan, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at four of the city’s goals from the 2011 Enviro Plan.

While the city made considerable progress in terms of increasing its diversion rate and reducing water consumption, cutting greenhouse gas emissions remained a struggle.

Greenhouse gas emissions

Goal: Port Coquitlam set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent (based on 2007 levels) by 2017.


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Outcome: Community emissions didn’t substantially change

Explanation: Port Coquitlam has made great strides in reducing some GHGs, with municipal buildings cutting emissions by 18 percent. But despite an overall improvement due to more efficient buildings, the city has also seen an 18 percent spike in “on-road transportation,” explained Tom Madigan, the city’s manager of solid waste and fleet.

The increase is due to both population growth as well as an more use of larger cars “not entirely offset by increased fuel efficiency,” Madigan noted.

How to get better: In addition to cutting emissions and advocating for better policies from senior levels of governments, the city should also explore ways to encourage reforestation in order to improve air quality and reduce stormwater runoff, according to Madigan.

Beginning in 2017, the city embarked on a large-scale tree protection and engagement program, Madigan added. There was been a “slight increase” in tree canopy coverage between 2016 and 2019, according to Madigan. The city will likely pursue a goal of 30 percent canopy cover by 2050, Madigan added.

Water consumption

Goal: Reduce total water consumption by 33 percent by 2020 (based on 2007 levels)

Outcome: 21.5 percent reduction per person (approximately)

Explanation: This one is a little murky. Besides the fact that not all properties are metered, both emergency management and construction projects make it a challenge to get clear data.
However, despite an increase of more than 9,000 residents between 2007 and 2020, the city used less water in total. Per person, water use dropped from 181.58 cubic metres in 2007 to 142.68 cubic metres in 2020.

Diversion rate

Goal: An 80 percent diversion rate by 2020

Outcome: A 66.1 percent diversion rate

Explanation: While Port Coquitlam fell short of its target, it nonetheless boosted the diversion rate from 45.8 percent in 2007 to 66.1 percent in 2020.

Total garbage tonnage dropped from 8,095 in 2007 to 5,123 in 2020 while green tonnage more than doubled, shooting from 3,537 in 2007 to 7,313 in 2020.

On a per-person basis, waste fell from 275.8 kilograms in 2007 to 237.9 kilograms in 2020.

Access to food

Goal: All residents have access to growing food through community gardens, backyards, rooftops, or other avenues.

Outcome: To that end, Port Coquitlam has maintained three public community gardens on municipal land: Central Park, Elks Park and at Port Coquitlam Community Centre.

The city is currently investigating the need and capacity for more community gardens, according to Madigan.

The next plan

With the 2011 environmental plan at the end of its life cycle, Port Coquitlam is planning to: “build upon its successes (and failures) in the City’s future environmental strategic planning,” Madigan wrote.

The forthcoming climate action plan isn’t intended to replace the environmental strategic plan, as it has a “very different focus,” according to Madigan.

Related: Coquitlam vs. environment goals

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