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Langley Township to plan for future heat waves

$30,000 grant will study responses
The Township of Langley Civic Facility. (Langley Advance Times files)

Langley Township will spend a $30,000 grant on studying populations at risk of a future heatwave, council decided a year after the deadly heat dome event hit southern British Columbia.

The grant from the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) goes towards “risk and vulnerability mapping,” risk assessments, and developing extreme heat response plans.

There were 23 deaths related to the heat dome in Langley Township and City, and 619 province-wide. Most were older adults or those with medical conditions who lived in homes without sufficient air conditioning to protect them when temperatures spiked above 40° Celsius in late June and early July 2021.

Councillor Bob Long said he hoped there would be a look at using shuttle buses to get people from homes to cooling centres, like libraries and community centres.

“It is an interesting challenge for seniors and all kinds of people to get to these centres and get home,” noted Long.

Coun. Kim Richter wanted the study to look at emergency access to potable water as well.

The Township’s Seniors Advisory Committee has discussed the project, said Coun. Petrina Arnason, and she noted there are “a lot of gaps” in their infrastructure on this issue. The report should lay the groundwork for best practices in the future, she said.

Coun. Steve Ferguson was happy staff are proceeding with the project.

“We’re often criticized at the council level for not proceeding fast enough,” he said.

The staff report on the grant does not say exactly when the council will hear the report on measures to take, however, it noted that the Township’s existing Climate Action Strategy already has a focus on the effects of climate change, and calls for more shade trees and structures in parks and greenways, updated emergency response guidelines, more public drinking fountains, and the purchase of portable water stations and misters.

READ MORE: B.C. scientists see recovery, but fear more heat domes could change ecosystems forever

READ MORE: Policy revamp might save lives in next heat dome, but so could community, say B.C. experts

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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