Cooling centre opens up for Kamloops' most vulnerable | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Cooling centre opens up for Kamloops' most vulnerable

August 18, 2020 - 11:57 AM

A cooling centre has opened up in Kamloops as sweltering temperatures continue to hit the River City.

Glenn Hilke runs and is involved in several community programs aimed at helping the city’s most vulnerable populations, especially those who struggle homelessness. He says the cooling centre on the North Shore will remain open as long as the temperatures continue to sit around 30 degrees Celsius.

Kamloops was under a heat warning over the weekend that finally ended Monday and nearly reached a record high temperature at 37.9 C Sunday. Temperatures are expected to drop slightly on Wednesday.

“We haven’t done any advertising, it has just been by word of mouth and by people that are needing access to the centre. We have some people coming in once a day, and we have some people coming in five or six times a day. We also set up a very simple hose and misting head outside of the building so people can mist themselves cool,” Hilke says.

The centre is run out of 405 A Tranquille Road, which serves as a hub for various community-based projects such as the Kamloops Covid Meal Train, the Lived Experience Committee, Loop Lunch and Learn and now the cooling centre.

“What happens under that roof is as much as we can fit in,” Hilke says. “The building has been renovated in such a way that there are three points of access and exits, all of which can be run independently of one another so we’re able to have three different activities happening here simultaneously which is how we imagined it would be.”

Hilke says the doors for the cooling centre opened on Sunday, and now about 40 people come in per day. The air-conditioned seating area has space for 20 people due to COVID-19 safety protocols, and visitors must sanitize their hands and use a provided mask upon entry.

Credit: FACEBOOK / The Loop Lunch and Learn

The cooling centre is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hilke says this is the only one open every day of the week in the city, although the Mustard Seed downtown offers limited cooling services from Tuesday to Saturday. Hilke says this cooling program is the first he’s worked on since running one out of the building at 185 Royal Avenue before it was given to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

“We ran a 7-day-a-week drop-in centre there with breakfast and lunch for a couple of years before we gave the building to CMHA to open up a branch because we realized it was more important to have a shelter with food as opposed to just a drop in…. It was a cooling centre just by default and a warming centre just by default.”

Hilke hopes to see some action from the City so cooling shelters are available to anyone who needs them, either through more locations or free transportation to a centre during extreme weather.

“I’d like to see the City do what other municipalities do when there’s heat waves like this or cold waves, that they help people who are vulnerable or low income to make transportation more accessible for them, in other words, free for a limited time. And it would be great if there could be a cooling centre downtown.”

Those who visit the cooling centre at 405 A Tranquille Road can not only enjoy some misting and air conditioning but can also re-hydrate and get some food in them. Hilke says the team is always looking for volunteers who can give two or three hours of their time, and also for food and drink donations.

“We had somebody from the community purchase 500 ice cream sandwiches as a donation yesterday,” Hilke says. “Right now we’re looking for donations of ice tea and punch and juice mixes, the powdered stuff because we have a lot of people that are really dehydrated coming in… peanut butter and jam is always flying out the door here, and I would say granola bars or fresh fruit, those are the things we are most in need of.”

If you want to get involved with the project, send Hilke a message through the Facebook page for The Loop Lunch and Learn or the Kamloops Covid Meal Train.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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