Surrey opens doors to get homeless out of smoky air

SURREY — Surrey Urban Mission is helping the homeless escape the smoky air, thanks to dollars from BC Housing, said executive director Jonquil Hallgate.

It’s a first for the city. In the past, extreme weather locations have only been called to open in the winter.

Peter Fedos is the extreme weather co-ordinator for Surrey-White Rock. He said given the unique conditions due to wildfires throughout B.C., particulates in the air are causing problems for some people, including those living on the streets.

While there’s been discussion at the regional level – and even a pilot proposal for shelters to open when temperatures hit 38 C – Fedos said nothing has officially been rolled out to deal with extreme heat.

“So we’re looking at how Surrey deals with it, regardless of the rest of the community,” he told the Now. “So there’s no extreme weather response in Surrey but what we’ve got is we have some service providers staying open to allow people to cool down and to get away from the particulates.”

Metro Vancouver released an air quality advisory Sunday due to high concentrations of particulates from smoke from wildfires.

The advisory says people with medical conditions should hold off on strenuous activities and stay indoors to reduce exposure. Of particular concern are infants, the elderly and those with diabetes and lung or heart disease.

Fedos said there’s many on the street who have diabetes and are either undiagnosed, untreated or both.

“We just want to see how it goes. It’s Surrey’s solution. So there’s no region wide strategy and this is a pretty good example of why something needs to be put in place.”

But he noted the situation is unique. He likened it to Ash Wednesday bushfires in ’83 in Melbourne, Australia, which he experienced first-hand.

“There they were having ashes and particulates cover the city for one day. Here, you’ve got ash dropping in Coquitlam in the upper elevations,” he said.

“Waking up that Sunday the smell was just unbelievable. It brought back memories for me. Seeing the smoke, I’m in Ocean Park, and our cul de sac was covered.”

Fedos said many predict B.C. is going to continue to see very dry summers.

“If this is what happened in a really short drought, the longer climate change goes on, the dryer it gets… You don’t get this kind of weather without a consequence.”

Meanwhile, Delta is closing several parks due to the weather and air quality conditions, including Boundary Bay, Watershed, Cougar Canyon, North 40 and Delta Nature Reserve.

Weather Network forecasts no to little rain, with a chance of showers on Monday, July 13.

areid@thenownewspaper.com

Just Posted

Stabbing at Surrey banquet hall sends man to hospital

RCMP says victim has ‘non-life threatening’ injuries, incident still under investigation

55-year-old man taken to hospital after fire at Surrey RV park

Firefighters find man suffering from smoke inhalation, burns to face and hands: battalion chief

Slam poetry creates catharsis for North Delta youth

Burnsview Secondary team gearing up for poetry festival and competition in April

South Surrey parking ticket perplexes, frustrates

Theresa Delaney predicts more people will be wrongly ticketed

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Pedestrian in serious condition after hit by car downtown Abbotsford

A youth was also hit, suffered minor injuries, police say

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

The can’t decide the pipeline’s fate until a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

Most Read