Working to make Port Coquitlam more accessible and equitable
City recently acted on roundtable's recommendations to enable lower income families to participate in recreation programs
By Louis Bergeron
A Port Coquitlam civic advisory committee is working this year to bring the city in line with British Columbia’s accessibility legislation.
Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West said the city’s equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) roundtable committee will focus this year on producing recommendations to council for how the city can ensure compliance with the Accessible British Columbia Act, which came into effect last year.
The legislation requires B.C. municipalities to establish an accessibility plan and Port Coquitlam’s EDI roundtable will be an important part of ensuring the city complies with the act, West said.
“One of my highest priorities is that every citizen is able to experience everything that the City of Port Coquitlam has to offer,” said West.
The roundtable, which was formed in 2020 during West’s first term as mayor, is a committee of volunteers who meet monthly to bring forward measures to increase Port Coquitlam’s accessibility to all segments of the community.
The committee is appointed by the mayor and made up of a diverse selection of 18 members from the community, including youth who are invited to discuss ways to promote inclusion.
The roundtable is entering its third year, and has already had an impact
In response to recommendations from the EDI roundtable, the city recently reduced fees for recreation programs to enable lower income families to participate.
“We want to see all the children participate in all the city’s recreation programs,” said West. “We continue to break down barriers.”
The committee and the city also want to promote inclusion and to “see a more diverse celebration of the different holidays in Port Coquitlam,” West said, pointing to Black history month, which just concluded, and the city’s first-ever Vaisakhi celebration, scheduled for April 1.
Meena Dhillon, co-chair for the EDI roundtable committee, said the local business association has been “invited to be more inclusive.”
Businesses were invited to sponsor different celebrations in Port Coquitlam such as the Pride Day parade, she said, and encouraged to change their signage and advertising to be more inclusive of the different segments of the community.
The overall effect is a more diverse and welcoming environment for everyone to participate in.
The roundtable committee’s work is “on-going,” Dhillon said, and “never completed”
Carrie Nimmo, Port Coquitlam’s manager of cultural development and community services, said one of the first policies influenced by the EDI roundtable was the city’s first anti-racism policy, which council unanimously adopted last year.
The EDI roundtable committee came forward with an initiative to provide unconscious bias training to city staff in their efforts to make a more inclusive work environment.
West said that as long as he and the current council are in office, the EDI roundtable committee will continue to bring forward measures to promote diversity and inclusivity in Port Coquitlam. The city aims to be more diverse, equal, and inclusive every year as the committee continues to propose new recommendations.