"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Transit optimization explained

Most of my council colleagues and I just spent the past 90 minutes talking with Translink folks about "service optimization" in Coquitlam. This is the latest step in a months-long process leading up to some significant changes by mid to late 2013.
The biggest sticking point involves service to Burke Mountain. A new direct route linking Coquitlam Centre to the intersection of Coast Meridian and David is being planned. That is good. But concerns were expressed that the service isn't keeping up with the fast pace of growth in the area, and that some better community-bus-type service into the neighbourhoods is needed now.
Apparently, the same general conversation took place at an open house a few weeks ago, and some residents left with the impression that one Translink official had said that if people want front-door service, they should move into existing medium or high density neighbourhoods that are already getting such service, and that they should never expect such service on Burke Mountain. This alleged declaration was repeated at council.
We brought this up at our meeting today, and the official in question issued a mea culpa, saying that his remarks came in the midst of what he considered to be a philosophical discussion, and that he never meant to say that Burke Mountain would never get good transit service.
In fact, as explained by session leader Marisa Espinosa, Translink is working diligently, by way of annual optimization and service performance reviews, to try to keep up with changing and growing population. Apparently, the last time the Tri-Cities area enjoyed an Area Transportation Plan update was 12 years ago. A new one is now in the works, though.
All in all, a good meeting.

Committee and board appointments are set

I am pleased to report that I will be taking on more responsibilities around City Hall in the coming year. That's because, in addition to retaining all my current committee and board appointments, I will also be City Council's representative on the board of the Coquitlam Public Library for 2013. Here's the complete list of my posts:

Coquitlam Public Library: council representative
Coquitlam River Aggregate Committee: chair
City/School Board Liaison Committee: chair
Arts and Culture Advisory Committee: vice-chair
Parcel Tax Review Panel: vice-chair

As well, Council has put my name forward to serve on Metro Vancouver's Regional Culture Committee. And, finally, my turn as Acting Mayor will be May 2-June 10.

Good news about the Coquitlam River

You might remember that, several months ago, an enviro-activist included the Coquitlam River on a list of allegedly "endangered" rivers in B.C., and I responded in council by saying that, in fact, the river was doing very well.

Heavy natural runoff in a Coquitlam stream in
the Westwood Plateau area, Dec. 4. (photo by Terry O)
However, I was challenged by some local residents to explain how I could conclude this when the City itself didn't know what was being discharged into the river from its storm sewers. It turns out that they had a good point.

One thing led to another and, after some meetings with City staff during which I, acting as chair of the Coquitlam River Aggregate Committee, pressed for the sort of testing that the residents were suggesting , I am proud to say that the City has now started a comprehensive testing program.

This should finally be able to determine to what extent any siltation that gets into the river (and much less siltation is taking place in recent years, anyway) is attributable to natural sources, storm-sewer discharges, or the aggregate (gravel) operations alongside the river in the north-central portion of the City.

Here's the text of the press release that the City issued about the testing program this morning:

Coquitlam River Water Quality Monitoring Underway

COQUITLAM, BC, December 4, 2012 – City of Coquitlam has begun water quality monitoring of the Coquitlam River to help build a reliable and current database of water quality information. The resultant data will be a huge tool to inform the community about the watershed's health in its urban environment.

“The City has looked at the monitoring and habitat restoration projects that have been undertaken along the Coquitlam River in recent years by various agencies and the many stewardship groups to see what kind of water quality monitoring data is available. While there's great work being done, consistent monitoring of the lower reaches of the River from the Coquitlam Dam to Colony Farm has not been occurring, so the City has developed a sampling program to help fill that gap," confirms Steffanie Warriner, Manager, Environmental Services.

The program involves a series of five sampling days at seven locations along the length of the Coquitlam River. Sampling will take place in the the late spring and the late fall so that both dry and wet season conditions are captured. The tests were selected on the basis of their importance to fisheries values and as indicators of healthy streams.

“Coquitlam River is a vital local asset, and Coquitlam has been taking the lead on a number of environmental stewardship projects for the river,” says Coquitlam Mayor, Richard Stewart. “One important activity is the role the City plays chairing the Coquitlam River Aggregate Committee, an advisory body with a mandate to monitor responsibility by all levels of government, the aggregate industry and other stakeholders to improve the health of the Coquitlam River. This work is contributing to some of the important improvements we're starting to see in the river."

Other improvements the City will be undertaking in 2013 include upgrading existing culverts on Fulawka Creek that flows into Coquitlam River in order to prevent flooding and debris jams. A larger project includes compiling a repository of information on the activities that the many different groups within the watershed have been involved in as they relate to gathering data or restoring habitat along the River.These groups include: stream keepers, BC Hydro, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Metro Vancouver and representatives of the aggregate industry.

The City of Coquitlam has also played a leadership role in the development of the Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable. The Roundtable coordinates and implements activities aimed at promoting the long-term sustainability of the Coquitlam River watershed. Now entering its second year, the Roundtable Core Committee began work on new projects including an educational watershed cafe series, and the first steps towards developing a Coquitlam River Watershed Plan. More information about the Roundtable, and opportunities to become involved, can be found on their website, www.coquitlamriverwatershed.ca


For more information, contact:
Steffanie Warriner
Mnager, Environmental Services
P: 604-927-3536