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City of Nanaimo helps to offer shelter from the swelter

People find cool spaces at city rec centres, firefighters distribute water to vulnerable population
Nanaimo’s beaches and water parks offer some relief from current high temperatures, and those who need to get out of the heat for a few hours can take advantage of air-conditioned spaces in the cities recreation facilities. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

The City of Nanaimo is trying to help people beat the heat during this summer’s most extreme hot weather.

Anyone finding the heat a bit too much to bear can find relief at any of Nanaimo’s recreation facilities, including Beban Park Social Centre, Bowen Park Activity Centre, Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, Nanaimo Ice Centre and Oliver Woods Community Centre, which all have air-conditioning.

“The lobbies to our rec centres are open to the public during regular operating hours and, at this point, they’re temperature-controlled so they’re much, much cooler than outside,” said Kathy Gonzales, city manager of aquatics.

The centres also give people access to washrooms, water fountains and water bottle filling stations.

“And then if they are looking to hang out for a little while, there are some electrical sockets, so they can charge their devices, but essentially it’s just a more comfortable place to sit during the day if they need to cool down,” Gonzales said.

The city is also offering drop-in public swimming and skating sessions, according to the City of Nanaimo’s website, and Nanaimo’s libraries and some shopping centres also offer air-conditioned spaces.

Gonzales said so far, city staff don’t have a fix on how many people are taking advantage of the cool-down spaces during the current hot spell.

“It’s hard to tell,” she said. “This time of year we often see a lot of people just hanging out in the facilities because they are air-conditioned and then there are a lot of people who come to visit just because they’re watching somebody or they’re waiting for somebody, but we’re definitely seeing some people at the aquatic centre coming in right around noon time and hanging out for a couple of hours and then heading out the door.”

The city website offers other suggestions of places people can go for relief from they heat, such as Nanaimo’s four water parks – Departure Bay Centennial Park, Deverill Square Gyro 2 Park, Harewood Centennial Park and Mansfield Park – plus a misting station has been set up at Maffeo Sutton Park.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue’s firefighters and the city’s bylaws officers are also helping to ensure Nanaimo’s most vulnerable populations are staying cool and hydrated with a bottled water distribution program.

David Dales, Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief, said the fire department is the agency handling emergency management in Nanaimo and so the bottled water distribution program is being handled as an emergency management initiative with funding from the province.

“We secured funding from Emergency Management B.C. to purchase bottled water and then the bottled water is for our vulnerable population…” he said. “We’ve distributed [water] to Nanaimo bylaws officers, all Nanaimo Fire Rescue apparatus have a bunch of water on board … When our firefighters or bylaws officers are out in the field and they come upon someone who meets that criteria of the vulnerable population, we’re giving them the bottled water.”

Dales said in a 24-hour period between Tuesday and Wednesday, July 26-27, about nine cases of water was given out. The program will run as long as high temperatures continue.

To read more tips from the city and province on how to best beat the heat, visit the City of Nanaimo website.

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Nanaimo’s firefiighters and bylaws officers are distributing bottled water to the city’s most vulnerable population. (Photo submitted)
(Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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