Re: "Rule needs changing," letter to the editor, Wednesday, Aug. 7. Mr. Soofi expressed concern about TV lights making council chambers warm after midnight, and suggests more efficient lighting be used.
Unfortunately, the last meeting day before the August break was very long, stretching 11 hours until after 1 a.m. However, the ventilation system shuts down automatically at midnight to conserve energy.
Council chambers has special lighting for the TV cameras, allowing the high-quality broadcast/webcast of council meetings. These lights are only used about 24 hours per month, compared to typical office/commercial lighting that is used 250 to 400 hours per month. Prematurely replacing these specialized lights (estimated cost of more than $10,000) to save approximately $3 per month in electricity wouldn't make economic sense for the residents of Coquitlam.
Coquitlam has significantly reduced our energy consumption in the past five years (with a 17-per-cent reduction in GHG emissions), and we've been recognized provincially for our achievements. Wherever practical, we've switched to energy-efficient fixtures and lighting, occupancy switches, reduced heating/cooling loads and other measures, including solar energy.
For example, at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex, waste heat from the production of arena ice is stored deep underground, and then used to heat Chimo Pool and the Poirier Library.
Some of our award-winning energy-efficiency measures can be seen at www.coquitlam.ca/city-hall/environment/climateaction.aspx.
As for the writer's concern about public input, I explain before every question period, as I explained in detail to Mr. Soofi the previous meeting he'd attended, city council is committed to setting aside that time at the end of every council meeting specifically for questions about items on that evening's agenda.
We provide this time at the end of council for people in attendance to ask about the next steps for a proposal, the implications of a decision on local residents/businesses, etc.
This is a longstanding tradition here in Coquitlam, since long before I was mayor, and I actually want to expand it to allow emailed questions from residents watching the live webstream.
There are many opportunities to give council input before our council meeting; this is an opportunity for residents to ask questions after as well.
Coquitlam goes to great lengths to get public input. We were one of the first communities to provide webstreaming of every council meeting, so residents and businesses can watch council meetings from anywhere in the world at any time they wish, search up the council debate on individual items (in the archives), check the on-line agenda, e-mail or call us with their opinion, and even send in comments during meetings (we often get electronic input on individual items during council meetings). And the recent expansion of our Town Hall Meeting through webcasting, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter allowed the widest participation and input ever.
There are dozens of other ways in which residents can provide input to council - the budget consultation process, delegations to council committee meetings, participating on one of our many advisory committees and task forces, or simply by e-mailing, writing or phoning the mayor or council members.
All of council's e-mail addresses and telephone numbers are published, and we all receive calls and e-mails seven days a week.
Local government is often called the most-accessible level of government, and here in Coquitlam we're working to make our council even more accessible. Even if the meeting stretches until after 1 a.m.
Richard Stewart Mayor of Coquitlam
/ Mayor Richard Stewart;
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