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Langford man raising alarm about poor heat planning in new developments

Artificial turf, windows that don’t open, and the sea of concrete are a recipe for harm as heat waves become the new normal

By Zoë Ducklow
July 29, 2022
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Langford man raising alarm about poor heat planning in new developments

Artificial turf, windows that don’t open, and the sea of concrete are a recipe for harm as heat waves become the new normal

By Zoë Ducklow
Jul 29, 2022
Devin Dignam measures the temperature of his Langford balcony Wednesday afternoon. At this moment it was 53.4C. Photo: Zoë Ducklow / Capital Daily
Devin Dignam measures the temperature of his Langford balcony Wednesday afternoon. At this moment it was 53.4C. Photo: Zoë Ducklow / Capital Daily
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Langford man raising alarm about poor heat planning in new developments

Artificial turf, windows that don’t open, and the sea of concrete are a recipe for harm as heat waves become the new normal

By Zoë Ducklow
July 29, 2022
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Langford man raising alarm about poor heat planning in new developments
Devin Dignam measures the temperature of his Langford balcony Wednesday afternoon. At this moment it was 53.4C. Photo: Zoë Ducklow / Capital Daily

At 8pm on Tuesday night when the outdoor temperature had dropped to 23C, Devin Dignam’s Langford apartment was peaking at 30C. By midnight it was still 25.5C.

He and his wife moved to the two-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of a new building last year during the heat wave—which was hell itself, he said. Anticipating the heat, they’d bought a mobile air conditioning unit which had worked nicely in their rented Colwood town house. With an ownership change, they’d been evicted a month before, and found their new place in the Belmont Market area in Langford.

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But their new air conditioning unit wouldn’t fit the apartment windows, a hotel-style vertical window that swings open a few inches. The air conditioner’s tube sits in the bottom pumping out hot air, while more hot air wafts in through the rest of the open window.

"It’s completely inefficient," Dignam said. Most portable air conditioners are designed for sliding windows, and come with a window kit to seal the room off from outside air.

During this week’s heat warning, Dignam’s inability to cool his apartment is making him wonder how neighbours with less mobility will fare.

"My wife and I are fine, we’re mobile and healthy. But what about people around here who have mobility issues?"

While outside temperatures hovered around 30C on Wednesday afternoon, Dignam’s living room measured just three degrees lower, with blinds drawn and the air conditioner running all day.

Out on the small balcony, they’ve set up small umbrellas to protect their plants. Tuesday night he recorded a high of 71C on the pale grey vinyl floor with a digital thermometer he’s been using to track the heat. The outside temperature peaked at 31C that day between 4 and 5pm, but the afternoon sun incubated the small balcony.

Looking down to the sidewalk below, the boulevards separating sidewalks from the scalloped parking are upholstered with artificial turf—including, he noted, the newest condominium building completed last month.

Calls for tree retention as Langford builds density

Over the past several years Langford council has driven dense development in the downtown core, with Mayor Stew Young regularly saying densification is Langford’s contribution to the housing crisis. As neighbourhoods that used to be made of detached homes with mature trees are razed and built into new multi-residential buildings, trees have become political.

Langford is the only Capital Regional District municipality that doesn’t have a separate tree protection bylaw. It uses its development permit process instead. That process requires Langford’s permission to cut trees, but the broad bylaw doesn't specify protection for certain trees, or set a target for retention like neighbouring municipalities' bylaws do. For many, it’s not enough.

The newly formed Langford Now elector organization launched a petition this month calling for a dedicated tree protection bylaw. It was timed to coincide with Coun. Lillian Szpak’s second attempt at getting council to consider such a bylaw at the July 18 council meeting. She proposed a similar motion in January and was dramatically rejected by the council. Her second attempt was also rejected.

Langford Now is campaigning to protect mature trees partly because of their role in keeping temperatures down. "The science is in: An urban tree canopy directly counters the urban heat island effect," the petition states.

Langford council has only two more meetings before the election—after they decided to cancel the last three meetings of their term—and with four council candidates announced with Langford Now’s backing, the next council could see a change of direction.

Article Author's Profile Picture
Zoë Ducklow
Reporter, The Westshore

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