The City of Vancouver unveils its plan to protect the public from the risks associated with rising temperatures as the southern part of the province is about to experience its first heat wave of the year.

After being criticized for its lack of preparation for last summer’s deadly heat dome, the City readjusted its plan to prevent further deaths.

As of Friday, temperatures in British Columbia are expected to hover around 30°C, which could increase the risk of flooding due to accelerated snowmelt. The heat is expected to last until Tuesday and authorities are not planning a heat alert at this time.

Considering the lessons of 2021

Daniel Stevens, the City of Vancouver’s crisis management director, said the plan has been improved since the wave that killed nearly 600 people last year.

The municipality has increased the availability of refreshment centers by 30% by creating new areas, in libraries or community centers. The opening hours of these centers will also be extended depending on the level of heat.

He also specifies that fresh water access points have been added throughout the city. Increased coordination with community stakeholders is also noteworthy, in his opinion, because it makes it possible to create more cool zones in neighborhoods and better communication with residents during periods that put them at greater risk.

In 2021, the City of Vancouver installed misting stations to allow passers-by to cool off.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Justine Beaulieu-Poudrier

The City also emphasizes the importance of the new two-level alert system implemented by the provincial government.

The heat response plan is gradually adjusted based on the experience accumulated each year. The last adjustment was obviously made following the events of 2021explains Daniel Stevens.

In the eyes of Dr. Michael Schwandt, medical officer of the health authority Vancouver Coastalthe plan has evolved since last year, especially in terms of the coordination of communications between government actors: There are explicit guidelines around key messages at different levels that did not exist beforehe says. The recommended actions are much clearer.

The City is also announcing a study that will be carried out in collaboration with academic partners to determine which areas on the territory require the most additional infrastructure for cooling.

The City of Vancouver has several water points, spread across the city.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Justine Beaulieu-Poudrier

To protect yourself

Authorities reiterated the importance of taking the necessary measures to protect yourself, such as finding cool places, preventive hydration and taking a cool shower.

Citizens are also invited to visit the most vulnerable people in their homes during heat waves. The City is also in contact with building owners to organize checks with residents during heat waves.

Dr. Michael Schwandt emphasizes the importance of moving to cool areas outside the home when housing does not protect against the heat. But according to him, it will also be necessary to plan for longer-term measures: It is a matter of climate adaptation and society must work towards creating housing that will be more resilient to extreme heat waveshe concludes.

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