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Our Place Society seeks donations of reusable water bottles during heat wave

Those experiencing homelessness in downtown Victoria are at special risk in warmer weather
Staff unload donations of bottled water that will be handed out to Chilliwack’s homeless community. Our Place in Victoria is seeking public donations of reusable water bottles to supply the city’s homeless population. (Black Press Media file photo)

With Victoria in the midst of another heat wave, members of Our Place Society are asking for the community’s help in supplying reusable water bottles to those experiencing homelessness and the chronic dehydration that can accompany it.

Our Place Society director of services Jordan Cooper said the community centre for people experiencing homelessness will see hundreds of individuals per day seeking a meal. This year’s hotter-than-normal summer has created a need to provide reliable hydration through reusable water bottles at the drop-in-centre courtyard and coffee bar.

During June’s heat wave, “a lot of people came asking if we had water bottles,” Cooper said. “We did have some, but we were fairly limited. So we’re trying to get some more for the next few days as well.”

Our Place staff will conduct safety check walks throughout the 900-block of Pandora and the surrounding area, Cooper said. “People may fall asleep in a place that’s shady, and then they’re in full sun for four or five hours, which can become dangerous … the outreach workers carry water bottles and give those out to people if they need them.”

They also need water bottles for residents of Our Place housing sites, some of which offer limited access to water, Cooper said.

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Much of Victoria’s homeless community transients the boundaries of downtown Victoria, Cooper said, which also has the least amount of tree shade cover across the City of Victoria, according to the city’s online map of tree canopy. This leaves those who spend most of their day outside at especial risk of heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Cooper said public cooling methods – such as the misters recently set up at Royal Athletic Park – are where the city should focus its resources if it wants to offer relief to those experiencing homelessness during the predicted heat wave.

To stay safe in the heat, the City of Victoria recommends drinking water even when not thirsty, avoid being outside during the hottest periods between noon and late afternoon and wearing light, loose clothing with a hat.

A map and list of the city’s public community centres and water fountains can be found on their Heat Warning webpage.

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