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Gas leak response breaks eerie, heat-related quiet in Sidney

Sidney’s SHOAL Centre becomes temporary cooling shelter for heatwave peak
Crews from the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department and Fortis BC responded to a Melville Drive home on Monday morning for a minor gas leak. Unlike other organizations, emergency crews cannot easily escape the current high temperatures. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Downtown Sidney, usually a hub of construction activity with crews and vehicles from multiple projects often competing for space, is eerily quiet as record high temperatures continue to grip the region.

One exception to the lack of activity was on Melville Drive, where a gas leak Monday morning brought a response from Sidney Volunteer Fire Department members and Fortis BC.

Asst. Chief Mike Harman said crews responded after the resident smelled natural gas. A Fortis BC crew later closed a minor leak discovered by firefighters on the outside of the house. The resident had to briefly leave the home.

Naturally, the unseasonably high temperatures were a topic of conversation.

“Obviously, hydration is a big thing,” said Harman, when asked how crews were dealing with the heat. In terms of weekend activity, he said there was no spike in weather-related calls.

RELATED: University of Victoria closed Monday due to extreme heat

Meanwhile, a landmark building in Sidney has been transformed into a cooling shelter for at-risk people on the Saanich Peninsula, with record-breaking temperatures impacting day-to-day life.

“In light of the extreme heat and the potential risks for vulnerable populations, Beacon Community Services is opening SHOAL Centre as a cooling centre,” said Kerry Readshaw, director of communications with Beacon Community Services.

The centre, at 10030 Resthaven Dr., is open until 5:30 p.m. on Monday (June 28) and from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The move comes as public and private offices are responding to the record-breaking heatwave.

A number of offices around the Saanich Peninsula have followed the example of Butchart Gardens in closing their doors to the public or reducing hours.

The Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank opened earlier and closed far earlier than usual in light of the heat.

“Today, we are only open for a couple of hours,” said executive director Bev Elder, reached Monday morning. “We cancelled all of our volunteers, we cancelled half of our pick-ups. We don’t want anybody to be under any extra duress at this point.”

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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