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Burnaby receives grant to develop seniors-friendly extreme heat and weather plan

The impacts of last year’s heat dome, where 73 Burnaby residents died, were felt mostly by seniors. 90% of those who died in BC were over 60.

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November 14, 2022 | 5:05 am

The City of Burnaby has been approved for a $25,000 grant that will allow it to create a plan to keep residents of all ages safe during an extreme weather emergency, such as a heat wave.

Council voted in July to endorse an application by staff for the BC Healthy Communities 2022 Age-Friendly Communities grant, which funds municipal projects across BC that support older adults in the community.

The grant was approved at the end of August.

The city will use the funds to “create an age-friendly strategic plan for a multi-sectoral extreme weather emergency response in Burnaby.”

At a council meeting in July, Coun Alison Gu noted that any situation in the city where an evacuation is needed—whether it’s due to flooding, a forest fire, or even a fire at the site of the Trans Mountain Pipeline tank farm on Burnaby Mountain—presents a special risk to seniors, those with mobility issues, and families with young children.

She also pointed out that the impacts of last year’s heat dome, where 73 Burnaby residents died, were felt mostly by seniors.

A report to council cites data from a BC Coroners Service report on the heat dome that found 90% of the 619 British Columbians who died were over the age of 60, and 98% of deaths occurred in a residence. 56% of people who died lived alone.

Burnaby plans to make use of pre-existing programs, like the Community-Based Seniors Services (CBSS) Network, and work with Fraser Health to protect isolated seniors and others who may be at risk during an extreme weather event.

“Protective measures for those at-risk to extreme weather include connections to healthcare or community agencies who can check-in on vulnerable community members before and during extreme events,” the staff report reads.

“These agencies can support awareness and preparedness before events and provide services and resources during events to keep vulnerable people safe.”

The project will create a ‘virtual communications tree’, a workspace where community organizations can find resources, health information, and information about emergency measures.

The grant would also fund the development of a strategy to reach isolated and vulnerable populations in an emergency. While it’s not clear at the moment what form that strategy would take, the report says it would bring together resources from the city, Fraser Health, and community organizations.

Srushti Gangdev

Reporter at Burnaby Beacon

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