Looking to a new future for the Burrard Thermal site

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Part of what motivated me to enter politics is the need to combat climate change and protect the gorgeous natural environment we are lucky enough to call home. Anticipation of new ways to address the climate crisis—and the unique opportunities that a new green economy will bring to Port Moody-Coquitlam—are also what drives me in my work.

From its construction in the 1960s until 2016, the Burrard Thermal site on Burrard Inlet functioned as a fossil fuel-powered power plant. In 2016, the previous B.C. Liberal government shut down the plant without any real plan for its future. Since then, much of the land on the site has simply sat unused. Burrard Thermal’s days as a power generation plant are over. However, the lands on which the old plant is located have the potential to be used for something different.

As the MLA for Port Moody-Coquitlam and parliamentary secretary for technology, I see a new future for the Burrard Thermal site. From conversations in our community, and through thoughtful input on the topic that constituents have shared with me, I know that people would like the lands to be used for something that will bring good, future-looking jobs to the Tri-Cities, help move us forward into the green economy, and build back a tax base for our community that was lost when the power plant shut down.

With this direction, and through consultation with local Indigenous nations, I want the Burrard Thermal lands to be put to work for our community. One exciting future I can see is one where our government can partner with innovative clean tech or clean energy companies to use the lands to develop technology that could have a massive impact in the fight against climate change. The possibilities of what this site could be used for are exciting—carbon capture, carbon sequestration, or clean energy innovation projects. Projects facilitated on the site could be transformational in our transition to a greener world.

In 2018, our B.C. NDP government released CleanBC, our provincial emissions reduction plan. CleanBC puts us on course to reduce our provincial emissions by 40 percent below 2007 levels by 2030, makes emissions reductions more affordable through rebates for things like home retrofits and electric vehicles, and introduced laws to keep government accountable to our climate targets. CleanBC is a start on the path to a low-carbon economy for B.C.—but also builds in room for innovation on how to reduce our emissions even further as a province. Transforming the Burrard Thermal lands into a home for clean technology or climate mitigation projects could contribute to the search for new and innovative ways to reduce carbon pollution.

A clean tech project at Burrard Thermal could make the Tri-Cities a green energy leader. As a former fossil fuel power generation plant, transformation of the site would have huge symbolic significance as well.

I’m very excited by the possibilities of the green economy—one that not only curbs our emissions, but one that encourages innovation and opportunities for sustainable economic development. I know people in the Tri-Cities are excited for this too. A new use for the Burrard Thermal lands that advances these goals is something we could all be proud of.

Published in The Georgia Straight