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Heat warning issued in Victoria and parts of Vancouver Island

Meanwhile, Victoria and city shelters brace for the heat’s arrival

Hanna Hett
July 21, 2022
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Heat warning issued in Victoria and parts of Vancouver Island

Meanwhile, Victoria and city shelters brace for the heat’s arrival

Hanna Hett
Jul 21, 2022
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Heat warning issued in Victoria and parts of Vancouver Island

Meanwhile, Victoria and city shelters brace for the heat’s arrival

Hanna Hett
July 21, 2022
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Heat warning issued in Victoria and parts of Vancouver Island
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

This story was updated on July 25 with new forecasts and updates from the City of Victoria.

Environment Canada has issued a heat warning, with temperatures on the South Island forecast to hit 30 degrees Celsius on Tuesday through Thursday. Nighttime temperatures aren't expected to drop below 16 degrees.

Armel Castellan, a meteorologist for Environment Canada, says that this heat is the result of a ridge of high pressure that is “blocked” in place, so the warm air likely won’t pass through the area as quickly as it might have otherwise. This could mean it stays hot—and gets even hotter—for several consecutive days.

In Greater Victoria, a heat warning is issued when daytime highs are 29 degrees or higher and nighttime lows are warmer than 16 degrees for two consecutive days.

Those are the thresholds where you start to see an uptick in mortality and hospitalization, Castellan told Capital Daily.

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An extreme heat emergency goes a step farther, requiring that temperatures mount for three consecutive days. That threshold hasn't been met.

In last year’s heat dome, which resulted in Victoria’s hottest day on record at 39.8 degrees, the number of deaths were unprecedented. Six-hundred and nineteen people died from the heat across BC in a one-week span. Twenty died in Victoria. 

Even with temperatures looking milder than last year's disaster, this warm weather could still put people at risk—especially the elderly, unhoused people, people who use drugs, and people who have disabilities.  

City, shelters bracing for the heat’s arrival

The City of Victoria has opened misting stations to help with the heat. Tanya Patterson, the city’s emergency program coordinator, told Capital Daily that they’ve dispersed an extreme heat resource at community centers that explains who’s most susceptible to heat and what the symptoms of heat-related illness are. It will also be posted on their website and shared on social media.

“It is getting close to the criteria for a level one heat warning,” she says.

Patterson adds they have all their resources ready if needed, including cooling centres, misting stations, portable water fountains, and additional buses to those cooling centres. (Some of these are reserved for an extreme heat emergency.)

Misting stations have been opened around Victoria. Map: City of Victoria

The city works closely with community organizations and service providers, and they will listen if those organizations say that the populations they serve are at risk.

Grant McKenzie, the communications director for Our Place, an organization on Pandora Avenue that supports unhoused people and other vulnerable groups, says that people who consume drugs are at particular risk, because their body might lose its ability to self-regulate temperature, or they might not notice that it is getting hot.

“Our biggest concern is about people who haven't been housed, who are on the streets. And especially people who are consuming drugs, a lot of times… they'll nod off and [end up] in the hot sun [when] the shade has moved,” McKenzie said.

When it gets warm, Our Place ensures that it provides extra support to individuals in need. They have tents set up in their courtyard for shade, and people are welcome inside their facility where they have it air conditioned. They offer water bottles, sunscreen, and lighter clothes. Further, they have outreach workers and paramedics who do wellness checks on the unhoused people that don’t come into their organization.

Our Place doesn’t follow the thresholds set by the provincial and municipal governments, McKenzie says. 

“When the temperatures get really hot, we’re just a little bit extra vigilant.”

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Hanna Hett
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