Kamloops homeless shelters double as 'cooling stations' amid heatwave | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops homeless shelters double as 'cooling stations' amid heatwave

Kamloops Curling Club and Memorial Arena now double as a "cooling station" and shelter as a heatwave weighs down on the Thompson-Okanagan.
Image Credit: Google Street View
June 23, 2021 - 5:30 PM

Homeless shelter and outreach services are mobilizing in Kamloops to expand services during the current heat wave.

The Memorial Arena shelter has been expanded from simply shelter operations to "cooling stations," set to continue for the duration of the heat wave.

Alfred Achoba, acting director of Canadian Mental Health Association Kamloops, hopes it will also help encourage people to use open beds at the shelter. 

Five people arrived at the Memorial Arena to cool off yesterday, and two of them are now staying at the shelter full-time.

Canadian Mental Health, the Mustard Seed and Ask Wellness have acted quickly to ensure there is water and resources prepared, Achoba said, as people without permanent shelter seek refuge from the abnormal heat.

Achoba projected the downtown shelter will remain as a "cooling station" until next weekend, July 2 or 3, but they are set to continue as long as heat warnings are in effect from Environment Canada.

Extreme heat is expected in the Thompson-Okanagan this week, with 40 C days lasting projected for this weekend.

Across the river, The Loop is seeing an influx of individuals heading into the outreach facility, where they have water and air conditioning.

"People are seeking shade anywhere they can get it," Glenn Hilke, The Loop coordinator, said. "I have to continue to encourage people to come to us if they're at a neighbouring business. We're trying to keep peace, but at the same time, they're told to move multiple times per day."

Hilke said paramedics were at The Loop on Tuesday when one of their clients suffered from a combination of dehydration, heat stroke and "possibly overdose." It's a problem they are aiming to avoid by keeping their doors open throughout the summer.

Both The Loop and Memorial Shelter are accepting donations of water so they can hand them out as their clients need. Hilke said The Loop has had such an influx of water donations that they were able to deliver to other agencies, like Mustard Seed and CMHA, but they always welcome more.

Meanwhile, the City of Kamloops is opening the concourse at the Sandman Centre as a cooling station for all residents. 

Starting Friday, June 25, the Sandman Centre will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., where capacity will be limited to 50 people. Masks must also be worn, in accordance with public health orders, according to a press release from the City.

In addition to the cooling centre, the release says the City is working with community partners to ensure bottled water is distributed to people at risk for heat-related illness. Community service officers will be watching for people showing signs of heat-related illness and encourage them to find shelter from the heat where possible.

— This story was updated at 11:15 a.m., June 24, 2021 to add information from the City of Kamloops.

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