Port Moody hatches bat plan

Vampires would approve of Port Moody’s new bat-friendly plan, but the far more dangerous (and real) bloodsuckers, mosquitos, probably will not.

Port Moody council approved an official application to the BC Community Bat Program (BCBP) to become a certified bat-friendly community on Nov. 8.

“We are in a climate and ecological crisis, and looking after all of the species that look after us is so important,” said Coun. Amy Lubik.

“We’re becoming bear friendly, bat friendly. It’s really wonderful to see Port Moody leading in these ways.”

The regional coordinator of BCBP approached the city’s environmental protection committee in spring 2022 about becoming certified.

Bat-friendly communities are required to protect, create, and enhance bat habitats through the installation and maintenance of bat boxes.

Certification also requires city hall to provide information about bats, and promote Bat Week (Oct. 24 to 31) annually to encourage learning about the insect-eating hunters.

The nocturnal creatures provide an important service to Port Moody’s ecosystem by controlling its pest population, according to the staff report.

Port Moody is also home to several bat species, including the little brown myotis, which is on the endangered species list, Burke Mountain Naturalist members reported.

Staff noted that bat populations are declining worldwide from habitat loss, climate change, pesticide use, noise pollution, cats, car collisions, wind turbines and white-noise syndrome.

The city thinks it can make itself more bat-friendly from only “minor adjustments” with the support of local stewardship groups.

The city has been partnered with local naturalists since 2017, and has eight bat boxes already installed around the community.

Staff are also working with BCIT students to develop a bat-focused enhancement plan to support habitat and control invasive species at Old Mill Pond.

The existing environmental policy framework already supports the implementation, and staff have provided a list of bylaws, policies, and programs that would help the local bat population survive.

A budget of $5,000 has been included in the 2023 capital budget for more educational outreach, creating more bat boxes and evaluating the current boxes.

Staff are exploring activities for the future, including bat box construction workshops, a community bat garden planting event, and purchasing bat detection devices for the public.

Coun. Callan Morrison suggested partnering with high school woodworking programs to help get more bat homes built.

Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Tri-Cities Dispatch