THE City of Vancouver and Vancouver Park Board are preparing to support residents with summer heat.
Working closely with Vancouver Coastal Health and provincial health authorities, the City and Park Board announced on Monday that they are undertaking a range of actions to help residents stay safe from heat-related illness. Extra care has been taken in this year’s planning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Water fountains, handwashing and misting stations
The City has already activated seven temporary drinking water fountains, in addition to over 200 permanent fountains and six bottle-fillers across Vancouver.
Ten handwashing stations and 12 misting stations have also been installed in high foot-traffic areas and parks across Vancouver to help people cool down when needed. Bottle-fillers are available at handwashing and misting stations.
Outdoor shaded parklets
The City has increased the number of public spaces where people can keep cool and physically distanced while outdoors by installing parklets at:
* VCH Clinic, 59 West Pender Street
* DTES Women’s Centre, 302 Columbia Street
* Evelyne Saller Centre, 320 Alexander Street
* Gathering Place, 609 Helmcken Street
These parklets offer shade under tree canopies, or shade tents during the day. Shade is also available under tents at 58 West Hastings Street, with seating and a water misting station on site.
The public will be alerted via VanConnect and online in the event of a beach closure due to water quality issues. The public is being encouraged to to monitor these pages which link directly to VCH’s water quality readings.
This year, the City is once again offering a free mobile pump-out service for recreational boaters, as part of a suite of efforts to help reduce contamination from various sources in False Creek.
During the summer months, the illegal discharge of sewage from boats is a key source of E. coli and other fecal contamination in False Creek and other marine waters that puts public health at risk and harms the environment.
If an air quality advisory is issued, cleaner air spaces will be activated at Carnegie, Evelyne Saller, Gathering Place, and Mount Pleasant Community Centres. These sites offer a limited number of spaces with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtering, which can support people struggling with respiratory issues. Hours will be made available online.
Extreme heat warnings
The City is also ready to initiate its extreme heat response plan should Environment Canada issue a Heat Warning, which occurs when two consecutive daytime temperatures reach 29°C or warmer and 16°C or warmer at night.
In the event of a heat warning, the City and Park Board will take additional steps to protect residents facing compounded challenges of COVID-19 and heat, including:
* Opening air-conditioned cooling centres in a select number of community centres and one library branch, and funding Atira Women’s Resource Society to run a daily drop-in centre for cooling. Locations and hours will be made available online.
* Distributing bottled water and sunscreen to those who may need these via community centres in the Downtown Eastside.
* Implementing a hot weather support plan for tenants at the City’s non-market housing buildings, including increased wellness checks, and provision of bottled water and fans.
* Sharing heat safety messaging with non-City owned SROs and requesting that SRO (Single Room Occupancy) operators check on residents vulnerable to heat.
* Emergency service personnel being particularly vigilant for people who may be suffering from or are at risk of heat exposure.
* Providing additional information via Vancouver.ca to ensure people are aware of heat warnings and can access the information they need.
* Translating heat-related information into 10 languages for residents and organizations to share with their communities.
Tips for staying cool
* Stay out of the sun as much as possible.
* Cool off: Plan ahead for where you can spend time in a cool or air-conditioned place, and seek shade when outside while staying 2 metres apart from others.
* Dress for heat: Wear a wide-brimmed hat, lightweight, loose-fitting clothing, and sunscreen.
* Take it easy: Avoid strenuous activity and exercise.
* Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of cool fluids such as water before you feel thirsty. Fill up your water bottle at one of our drinking fountains.
* Protect your loved ones: Check in by phone, video chat, or in person from a safe distance with anyone who is vulnerable to the heat, or who is less able to leave home due to COVID-19.
* Avoid leaving children or pets in closed cars: Children and pets are particularly vulnerable to heat in a closed car.
Everyone out and about in the city is also asked to watch out for people who might be in distress. If you see someone suffering as a result of hot weather, try to help the person hydrate and cool off with water to the face and neck.
Call 911 if it’s an emergency, or if you see an animal in distress, report it immediately to the BC SPCA.
Care for your pets
Animals with fur coats are particularly susceptible to the heat, as they are not able to cool themselves down easily and can overheat quickly. Leave them at home in a shaded area, or take them to an off-leash dog park with access to water.
The following off-leash parks have access to water, though hours vary:
* Sunset Beach Park
* Hadden Park
* Spanish Banks Beach Park
* John Hendry (Trout Lake) Park
* New Brighton Park
For updates and information on how to stay safe in summer heat, including forthcoming translated resources, visit vancouver.ca/hot-weather