Surrey approves Extreme Weather Action Plan as region hit with first heat event
Posted June 28, 2022 10:29 am.
Last Updated June 28, 2022 10:42 am.
Surrey city council has approved its Extreme Weather Action Plan, following in the wake of last year’s deadly heat dome.
The plan includes the distribution of information on locations and opening hours of outdoor cooling stations at community and recreation centres, as well as other public facilities.
“Many people don’t have air conditioning or good ventilation in their homes and if they’re home-bound and not able to get to a place where there’s air conditioning, they can visit our libraries or our rec centres and find a cool spot to sit there,” Councillor Linda Annis explained.
“When it gets unordinarily hot here in Surrey, all of the recreation centres and libraries will remain open to those that are street entrenched or vulnerable so that they will be able to go into these facilities and cool off, use the washrooms, get a cold glass of water, or whatever their needs are,” she added.
She says all the information is included in an app called Alertable, which is in use across various jurisdictions in Canada.
“This app is something you can download to your phone and if there’s an extreme weather condition, be it heat or cold, you will get a large audible tone on your phone that will provide you with direction on how to keep cool or maintain warmth.”
Last year, the heat dome saw temperatures rise into the 40s in some parts of the Lower Mainland. The B.C. coroner’s report into the situation found 619 people died due to the unrelenting heat. It also found “there was a lag between the heat alerts issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and public agencies and the public response.”
More than half of the deaths were in the Fraser Health region, and Surrey’s death rate (75) was second only to Vancouver (117).
While temperatures haven’t hit that threshold yet this year, parts of southern B.C. were subjected to their first blast of summer heat over the last weekend. Some areas reported temperatures in the low to mid 30s.
Annis says the city is taking more steps to try to keep the community safe as it prepares for more heat events in the near and distant future.
“If the heat dome would occur again, in the City of Surrey we will be taking action, working both with the provincial government and also looking at how we can extend the hours to our cooling centres that we will have operational,” she told CityNews.