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Letter: Coquitlam needs to be 'much more rigorous' to safeguard the environment

Thank you to the Burke Mountain Naturalists for their letter of Jan. 4, 2022, bringing to the public's attention the environmental costs of the Austin Works Yard Expansion project in Coquitlam.
austin works yard
A rendering of the new Austin Works Yard in Coquitlam.

The Editor: 

Re: Letter: When part of Mundy Park is removed, it weakens the Coquitlam forest (Jan. 4, 2022)

Thank you to the Burke Mountain Naturalists for their letter of Jan. 4, 2022, bringing to the public's attention the environmental costs of the Austin Works Yard Expansion project, which will involve the loss of 3.5 acres of mature urban forest and associated habitat.

While recognizing the important work done by our public works staff and the need to improve their facilities, the public needs assurance that, before proceeding with the project, the city has:

  • thoroughly explored whether there are any other options which are less environmentally costly
  • done rigorous environmental assessment and planning to prevent unintended negative consequences for Mundy Park and the wider neighbourhood

The disastrous effects of climate change, which we have witnessed in recent months, are a wake-up call that we can no longer proceed with "business as usual." 

Our city needs to be much more rigorous in the approval process for projects, making sure that all potential unintended negative consequences have been thoroughly considered by environmental experts who are taking into consideration:

  • climate change weather events of “catastrophic winds” (over 70 km/h), excessive rain and extreme heat
  • the importance of mature trees as crucial resources for stormwater management and heat mitigation

Has the Austin Work Yards Expansion project been given this kind of scrutiny by environmental experts?

Have there been any environmental impact studies to determine whether removing a sizeable area of forest in the undeveloped portion of the works yard will impact stormwater management, drainage or wind firmness of mature trees in both Mundy Park and in the wider residential neighbourhood?

There are reports that an earlier phase of expansion with the removal of many trees at the Austin Works Yard resulted in flooding and drainage problems which killed 100 mature cedar trees in the neighbourhood, including many trees at RC McDonald school several blocks downhill from the works yard.

The city needs to delay the start of the expansion project until the public has been assured that:

  • this project is up to the new environmental standards that climate change is forcing upon us
  • there is no better option, with less environmental costs, for meeting the facility needs of our public works department

Kathleen Wallace-Deering, Coquitlam 


Editor's note: 


The City of Coquitlam provided this response to the Tri-City News on Friday regarding the upcoming tree removal: 

"The tree clearing in the Austin Works Yard property to enable the first phase of the Austin Works Yard Renewal Project will commence early next week (the week of January 10th). The small number of trees required to re-align the trails within Mundy Park will also happen at that time. The trees removed to facilitate the realignment of the trails will be replanted in Mundy Park and the trees removed in the works yard property will be replanted in both Mundy Park and the neighbourhood to maintain the tree canopy cover in the long term."




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