More than 500 people used arena cooling centre to escape high temperatures, city says

Heat relief for 500-plus

More than 500 people used Sandman Centre to find relief from scorching temperatures during the heat wave in late July, according to City of Kamloops staff.

Linda Stride, the city’s recreation, health and wellness supervisor, told the community services committee on Thursday that a total of 527 people and seven pets used the cooling centre, which was open from July 26 to Aug. 1.

“That was a full seven days that we did activate Sandman Centre, that was primarily staffed by staff. We did have a couple of volunteers that we were able to get trained and have them be available,” Stride said.

Stride said a large percentage of the visitors were people experiencing homelessness.

She said those who were at the Sandman Centre — housed or unhoused — reported feeling safe and welcomed.

“It really just ended up being a very positive environment for all those who were able to visit,” she said.

She said various organizations stepped up to support those who were seeking shelter from the heat.

“We had bottled water available, we had the Kamloops Food Bank, as well as the Salvation Army bring over snacks, granola bars, those kinds of things, which were a huge welcomed addition to those that needed snacks,” Stride said.

“In addition to those few agencies, we have Ask Wellness and CMHA who have stepped up to help us to support that population in particular at the cooling centre.”

Stride said street outreach teams from the organization stopped by to check in with people seeking shelter, while the Interior Health Outreach Team made sure there were no medical needs.

“People in Motion stepped up hugely. They used their Memories in Motion van to help drive older adults to the facility as well as take them home upon closure of the facility at eight o’clock at night,” Stride said.

“The same was true for the Envision shuttle, helping with some of those experiencing homelessness reach the facility as well."

Stride said staff are monitoring at the forecast, which shows temperatures could increase next week.

She said the city has managed to recruit volunteers to help man two cooling centres should they be needed later in the summer.

“We will be able to respond if we do go into a heat alert with two facilities opening. So along with staff and volunteers, we will be able to open Sandman Centre and Parkview Community Hall should we go into an activation,” Stride said.

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