COQUITLAM, BC, July 9, 2021 – If air quality worsens due to wildfires this summer, Coquitlam residents will be able to take a break from the smoke at some City facilities.
Coquitlam has created Clean Air Spaces at several public facilities to reduce the impact of wildfire smoke on residents – particularly those sensitive to poor air quality, such as those with respiratory or chronic health conditions, pregnant people, children and older adults.
Upgraded to keep out smoke, the sites will open during times when air quality poses a high health risk to give residents a place to spend a few hours breathing in cleaner air. Locations, hours and details will be listed at www.coquitlam.ca/cleanairspace.
Helping Residents Breathe Easier
Wildfire smoke is made up of gases and fine particulates that can inflame or irritate the lungs, eyes, nose and throat. Coquitlam was among the first communities in Fraser Health to take steps to upgrade its facilities to serve as temporary clean air spaces, which are expected to become increasingly necessary as wildfires are becoming more commonplace across British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.
In 2019, the City used funding through the Canada Community-Building Fund (formerly Gas Tax Fund) – a cost-sharing infrastructure program administered in B.C. by the Union of B.C. Municipalities– to make the necessary upgrades to several facilities, including adding charcoal filters, updating mechanical systems to avoid pulling in exterior air, and installing air curtains to seal entrances.
Poirier Sport & Leisure Complex, Glen Pine Pavilion, Dogwood Pavilion and Coquitlam Public Library’s Poirier branch are among the locations ready to host Clean Air Spaces, which were also one of the top 10 action items in the City’s Climate Adaptation Strategic Plan. Additional sites are also being updated and may open if necessary.
During wildfire season, the City closely monitors trusted sources of air quality and public health information to determine when to activate the Clean Air Spaces, which require 24 hours for set-up.
If air quality worsens and the Clean Air Spaces are activated, the specific hours, locations and other details will be posted on the website and provided through Coquitlam’s social media channels. The sites are not intended for overnight or extended stays.
Protecting Your Health
The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and Emergency Management BC are encouraging residents to take steps to protect themselves from the impact of wildfire smoke. Advice includes:
- Closely monitoring people in your household who may be more sensitive to wildfire smoke, including those with chronic conditions (such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes), pregnant people, children and older adults;
- Spending less time outside including reducing outdoor physical activity;
- Keeping windows and doors closed at home;
- Keeping vehicle windows closed and setting air conditions to recirculate;
- Wearing a well-fitted respirator or three-layer cloth or disposable mask when outdoors;
- Buying a high-efficiency particulate air filtration system;
- Seeking respite in public facilities like shopping malls, community centres, swimming pools or libraries; and
- Stocking up on medications for respiratory conditions such as asthma.
More information about wildfire smoke and protections can be found on the BCCDC website (www.bccdc.ca > Health Info > Prevention & Public Health > Wildfire Smoke), including fact sheets on face masks and portable air cleaners.
Drops in air quality are commonly reported in the media, but residents are encouraged to check for themselves through trusted government sources, such as:
Residents may also monitor www.coquitlam.ca/cleanairspace and sign up for notifications from the City through the CoquitlamConnect mobile app or NotifyMe news alerts (see www.coquitlam.ca/connect), or follow the City on social media.
About the Canada Community-Building Fund
The Canada Community-Building Fund (formerly the Gas Tax Fund) is in its 16th year of delivering funding to local government infrastructure and capacity-building projects in British Columbia. In that time, the fund has transferred over $2.5 billion to B.C.’s communities. The fund provides municipalities across the country with a permanent, stable and indexed source of infrastructure funding. For more information, visit www.infrastructure.gc.ca/gtf.
Manager Corporate Communications
City of Coquitlam