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High temperatures hard on homeless population: Our Place

Those living on Pandora Avenue don’t have a lot of shade to retreat to, and tents offer little respite from the sun

Temperatures are expected to remain in the high 20s in Victoria and Nanaimo and over 30 C in Port Alberni today — not quite as stifling as in previous few days but still particularly hard on people without homes.

Grant McKenzie of Our Place, which offers services to the street population, said the 90 or so people living outside the agency on Pandora Avenue don’t have a lot of shade to retreat to, and the tents many of them use offer little respite from the sun.

“Those tents get really hot,” he said. “They can become like saunas.”

During the heat wave, Our Place is being “extra vigilant” in checking on people, McKenzie said.

“We’re fortunate we have ­paramedics on staff and ­outreach workers,” he said. “So we go out and we’ve got a whole load of sunscreen and bottled water.”

Those who need to cool off are invited to come inside the building to enjoy the air conditioning or have a shower. “It’s just really keeping an eye out,” McKenzie said.

Having paramedics to look in on people is important because they can see if anyone is exhibiting heat-related symptoms, he said, adding regulating body heat is particularly challenging for those who use fentanyl or other opioids.

“If people are opioid users, it can be quite easy for them to curl up in a ball somewhere with the sun beating down on them,” he said. “They don’t ­regulate their heat, so it’s very easy for people to go into heat stroke.”

He said the public often thinks of donating to Our Place when the weather is colder, but the agency spends a lot of money keeping people safe at this time of year, too. “And financial ­donations are always important so we can buy more water and more sunscreen and things like that.”

Contributions can be made at

New heat records set, warnings still in effect

Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan said while heat warnings were still in effect around the Island on Tuesday, winds from Juan de Fuca Strait are bringing temperatures down slightly for now, although they’re expected to rise again on the weekend.

Twenty-seven daily temperature records were set in B.C. on Monday, and 25 on Sunday.

On Monday, Campbell River hit 33.4 C, eclipsing the previous record for the day of 33 C, set in 2010, while the Malahat hit 32.3 C, beating the old record of 30.4 for the same day in 2020.

Castellan said Greater Victoria can see a wide range of temperatures on a given day — the ocean’s influence on Monday, for example, kept Victoria Harbour at 18 C or 19 C while Victoria International Airport saw temperatures in the high 20s.

The norm for Greater Victoria at this time of year is 22 C.

For farmers such as Terry Michell, recent weather has meant crews have been starting to work earlier in the day and irrigation is going around the clock.

“Young plants that we’ve planted for the winter need a lot of moisture to keep them from drying out,” he said. “It’s busy times — it’s non-stop.”

Michell said it’s been a very good year for berries. “At berry season we’d rather be irrigating than trying to fend off the rain.”

Lettuce, carrots, onion, beets and cauliflower are also in good supply, Michell said.

“There’s a fair amount of things you can find either at the stands or at the grocery store.”

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