City of Victoria planning response for future heat events


The 2021 heat dome that covered much of Western Canada resulted in hundreds of deaths in B.C., and City of Victoria staff have put together a plan for response for future heat events with the goal of preventing deaths.

Between Jun 18 and Aug 12, 2021, the B.C. Coroner reported 595 people died due to the heat dome in the province.

In Victoria, 18 people died between Jun 25 and Jul 1, 2021.

City staff worked with the parameters the provincial government set for how to determine if heat requires a response.

“It was devastating last summer across British Columbia to lose so many people to the heat,” Mayor Lisa Helps said in the Committee of the Whole meeting. “It’s really also great to see the provincial government stepping up with this pilot program so that we don’t have to essentially make decisions about what is a risk. That’s not our job, that’s the provinces job.”

Staff presented the committee of the whole a plan which follows the province’s two-tiered heat alerting system.

Under the system, a tier one response would be triggered if Environment and Climate Change Canada says daytime temperatures will reach 29°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 16°C or warmer. The second tier would be triggered if these temperatures are expected for three days in a row.

If either of these is triggered, the city’s plan is to roll out a communication program, and open cooling centres and misting stations.

The communication program would include messaging about where the cooling centres and misting stations are, information about water fountains around the region, and share Health Canada’s tips on how to stay safe in the heat.

Laura Brougham

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