As abnormally high temperatures hit Metro Vancouver again this week, several B.C. governments are revising their heat-wave management strategies, including the possibility of keeping cooling centres open overnight.
Environment Canada has issued heat advisories for Metro Vancouver, Howe Sound, the Sunshine Coast, the Fraser Valley, and eastern Vancouver Island. Beyond that, it issued a special weather statement for a broad portion of the region, with temperatures predicted to peak from Wednesday through Saturday. It comes a month after an unprecedented heat dome struck British Columbia, causing a rise in unexpected fatalities, with the heat recognised as a “major contributing factor” in as many as 815 deaths.
Municipalities in the region, including Vancouver, Richmond, and Burnaby, are revising their preparations for future high heat events, following criticism that last month’s responses were inadequate. “I don’t believe there was a comprehensive strategy in place prior to the heat dome that we saw…. The city did the best they could on short notice,” said Carol-Ann Flanagan, executive director of the Burnaby Society to End Homelessness.
Flanagan was part of a team that worked since March on a severe weather heat strategy that was presented to Burnaby council on Monday. Her presentation stressed the significance of pop-up cooling centres during heat waves, and she is confident that plans to allow for more will be in place “very soon.”
“I know there would have been more deaths for our homeless people [during the heat wave] if there had not been any type of cooling area,” she added.