The heat wave that’s been sweeping across Metro Vancouver hit an all time high today, breaking records for the first time all season.
Global News’ Kristi Gordon says by this time last year, 14 historically hot days had already come and gone. But don’t let the comparison fool you, today was a hot one.
“It’s the inland regions, Abbotsford hit a record of 35 degrees so far … they broke a record that was set back in 1965, White Rock has broken a record at 32 degrees and so has Chilliwack at 35.”
During a heat wave like this one it’s your first instinct to stay cool, but not everyone has easy access to air conditioning.
Keeping cool not so easy for those in need
Vancouver’s homeless population can’t avoid the climbing temperatures, which can be an extreme risk for their health.
The Union Gospel Mission spokesperson Jeremy Hunka says the public shouldn’t just focus on what it’s like for those less fortunate in the winter months. Any extreme weather conditions are going to take a big toll.
“Extreme heat can be a real risk, can be a real danger for people who are homeless. People often think of those on the street when it’s cold outside, but heat in some cases can be just as dangerous when you don’t have a place to go.”
The Mission is working non-stop to ensure homeless people have cool shelters to visit and access to the warm weather necessities the rest of us have at our fingertips.
He says they’re providing 24/7 cold water at their Downtown East Side location, and new this summer refillable bottles are being given out. In addition, they’ve increased street walks to hand out water, hats and sunscreen to those outdoors.
Increased resources still fall short with high homeless count
But these resources can run low on the hottest week of the year, Hunka says they’re seeing some depletion lately.
“We’re short on refillable water bottles right now, hats, things like sunscreen, and of course donations always help.”
But regardless of the number of helping hands, the fact is Vancouver’s homeless population is high and even all the city’s resources combined don’t mean everyone will get the help they need to survive dangerous weather.
“The homeless count showed this year that we’re seeing a ten year high in the number of people on the street who don’t have a place to go. many are feeling desperate, many are feeling vulnerable. And no, there aren’t enough services right now to care for everybody who’s in need.”
Temperatures this week have climbed higher than 30 degrees in various locations.