DTES advocates looking for water, sunscreen donations for unhoused as city swelters

As the first sustained heat of the season settles in across British Columbia’s south coast, Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued a special weather statement advising people of high temperatures and humidex values through Monday.

Saturday temperatures reached 31 degrees in parts of the Fraser Valley Saturday but it was cooler along the coast where many people packed Vancouver’s beaches to take advantage of the rising temperatures.

"I think if it stays like this for the next two or three months it will be just wonderful,” said Rogayeh Tabrizi as she strolled the sea wall in Stanley Park.

The above average temperatures do have some people concerned and that is why ECCC issued the special weather statement.

"According to the epidemiologists at BC CDC and health authorities, the first heat of the season has an impact in terms of affecting susceptible populations, the at-risk populations," said Armel Castellan, an extreme weather meteorologist with ECCC.

One year ago this week, hundreds of people in B.C. died as the province sweltered under an unprecedented heat dome.

Many of the people who lost their lives were seniors or people with compromised immune systems living alone in apartments with no air conditioning.

Saturday, on the Downtown Eastside, staff with the Overdose Prevention Society handed out free bottles of water in an effort to keep people hydrated – and alive.

"Some folks are drug users and sometimes they’re having an overdose,"said OPS’s Sarah Blyth. "And you don’t want to have heatstroke-slash-overdose. It’s just so complicated."

OPS is asking for donations of water, Gatorade, hats and sunscreen that can be distributed to people living on the streets who may be particularly susceptible to the risks associated with extreme weather

Donations can be dropped off at 41 East Hastings Street.

"Even on the best of days people are dying down here," Blyth said. "So, when it gets really hot or it gets really cold it creates more challenges for people."

Municipalities across the region have also opened cooling centres so people can access air conditioning.