Initial findings of GSA’s Extreme Heat Project

Extreme heat

At GSA, we have been visiting neighbourhoods in Nanaimo, Richmond, Vancouver and West Vancouver that have been directly affected by the extreme heat event of 2021. We’re trying to gain a better understanding of the impacts of this weather event, what concerns folks have, and what is still needed. After all, it is the people who live in these communities who know this best, and they are the ones who understand what types of initiatives will – or won’t – work there.

While our Extreme Heat Project is still in its initial phase, some initial findings include:

Participants were mostly left to navigate the extreme heat alone

Only 11% of participants said friends, family, or neighbours offered assistance during the extreme heat; 3% of participants said a government agency of some kind offered assistance; and 4% said a community group did.

The extreme heat limited many people’s ability to do daily tasks

Some 59% of participants reported the extreme heat limiting their ability to do cooking, cleaning and household chores; 30% couldn’t do these basic daily tasks during the extreme heat.

Many people had their health impacted by the extreme heat

Some 35% felt sick or unwell because of the extreme heat; and 19% reported that pre-existing illnesses were made worse by the extreme heat.

Communities know what will help and want to see action

From concerns about how to protect their communities to tackling the emissions that drive climate change, and from specific ideas around notifications for weather emergencies to where to put cooling centres in their neighbourhoods, people have good ideas to tackle the climate crisis. But there is a lot of concern at how slowly governments are moving, and, perhaps more importantly, nobody is visiting folks or listening to their experiences, nor is there any follow-up to their concerns.

As we head into winter, we’ll continue processing the data we collected and planning the next phase, and hope to visit neighbourhoods again in the Spring. There is a lot more we need to learn, and there is plenty more we need to figure out together. We’ll be training canvassers to help us conduct further surveys, and building local teams to continue the conversations.

Our project is just getting started! If you’re interested in getting involved with this project, please get in touch!

Image: Gerd Altmann-Pixaby

2 thoughts on “Initial findings of GSA’s Extreme Heat Project

  1. Extreme smoke !
    In BC the fires are predicted to get worse.
    What is also very problematic is this is due to drought which is caused by government inaction and ignorance on the problem of the worse pollution.. not transport.. it’s wood burning.
    Grappling with the hell we now face .. the push for mining rare minerals needed to transition is meaningless unless we tackle the worse polluters . Wood Smoke. See NESCAUM ASSESSMENT OF THOSE EPA/ CSA SO CALLED CLEAN BURNING LOWER EMISSIONS.. it’s all a ‘BIG LIE.’
    People deserve to know the truth and UBC must come clean along with The LUNG ASSOCIATION.
    This subsidized industry ( HPBAC) has caused enormous heath and environmental horrors! Where is the Canada Competition BUREAU.
    This smoke we suffer now .. the winter smoke.. the exterior fires. Wake up! Please refer to NESCAUM ASSESSMENT OF RESIDENTIAL WOOD BURNING
    It’s extremely disheartening to see fraud and fire and corruption destroying heath and our beautiful animals and the forest..
    Twitter: Wood Smoke Free

    • Hi Stella,

      We agree that smoke is a huge concern. Four of BC’s largest 5 fire seasons have occurred since 2017. 2023 is already the largest fire season we’ve ever had. Some experts think that fire seasons will only grow longer, and the possibility exists they may become a year-round phenomenon. Our region had a taste of this last year, with smoke inundating BC cities into October. The health effects of wildfire smoke pollution are still being studied, but range from systemic inflammation to elevated heart problems and cancer rates to worsening flu season to impacts on the brain itself. Smoke from Canadian fire seasons is as deadly as vehicle pollution and costs our health system billions.

      We’re advocating for indoor air quality measures. The World Health Organization guideline on air quality recommends a specific standard for PM2.5, the fine particles that are of most concern from wildfire smoke (annual PM2.5AQG level of 5 µg/m, 24-hour PM2.5 AQG level of 15 µg/m) that we believe should govern indoor air quality.

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