It’s been about two weeks since a record-breaking heatwave made a small community in B.C. the hottest place in the country.
The number of sudden and unexpected deaths skyrocketed under the oppressive heat, with hundreds of being attributed to the extremely high temperatures.
And, as we know, the community of Lytton, after becoming the hottest place in Canada at 49.6 degrees Celsius, was almost completely destroyed by wildfire. (Learn more about United for BC Wildfire Recovery Fund at uwcnvi.ca .)
I’m sure we are all wondering if this is only the start of a dangerously hot summer.
That is why keeping cooling centres open through the summer for our most vulnerable citizens is so important.
In Nanaimo, the cooling centre at 285 Prideaux St. will be open on days where forecasted temperatures are above 27 degrees Celsius.
The cooling centre is thanks to the partnership between the City of Nanaimo, United Way British Columbia – working with communities in B.C.’s Interior, Lower Mainland, Central & Northern Vancouver Island – and Canadian Mental Health Association Mid-Island, funded jointly by the City of Nanaimo, United Way British Columbia, and the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home funds: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy.
The Prideaux Street centre provides a chance for some of Nanaimo’s unsheltered residents (estimated to be more than 430 people at the 2020 Point-in-Time Count) a chance to cool off, access water, sandwiches and coffee. The City of Nanaimo increased their support of water to ensure these individuals can stay hydrated throughout the hot season.
First open from June 26 to July 9, the cooling centre saw 198 people use it in that time, with 23 people being the highest one-day number.
The cooling centre opened again July 10 and 11 due to temperatures above 27 degrees Celsius, and saw the number of visitors grow to 29 and 31.
On the days that it opens, the cooling centre will run from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the 7-10 Club’s 285 Prideaux st. location.
The capacity at the centre is 10-15 people at a time due to COVID-19 safety requirements. The cooling centre will be available on days with forecasts above 27 degrees Celsius until August 31.