West Nipissing council aims to curb the heat

With summer’s heat still surrounding us, the Municipality of West Nipissing is working on a heat relief plan to help cool residents. The idea is to create cooling centres within municipally owned or partnering buildings to open when temperatures rise. The plan is to launch these centres next year.

“We’re going to have dedicated cooling centres,” explained Alisa Craddock, West Nipissing’s Director of Corporate Services. “These will be in public areas that are generally opened anyways,” such as the library, she added, or the Verner Arena.

Environment Canada will announce a heat warning with temperatures 29 degrees or over, with an overnight forecasted at greater than 18 degrees and a humidex greater than 36 degrees. “Those will trigger a heat warning,” said Craddock. “It’s not that we won’t help out folks in-between, but this is when the heat warning triggers.”

Instituting a formal policy on heat warnings will remove the need to bring the issue to council on a case-by-case basis. With the policy, all municipal staff and offices will be aware of when to open the doors for heat relief to help the community.

The cooling centres will help the homeless community, but also anyone else who lacks air-conditioning and need some sanctity from the heat. Seniors, youth, and those vulnerable to sweltering days due to a medical condition would also benefit.

But everyone would be welcome.

See: This summer was a global record breaker for the highest heat ever measured, meteorologists say

The West Nipissing Emergency Control Group is responsible for coordinating the Municipality’s response to hot weather events and heat emergencies, Craddock reminded council. The group also works with community partners such as the Health Unit, local health organizations, and the OPP to coordinate community response once a heat warning is issued.

“This is a great start,” said councillor Jamie Restoule, referring to the work accomplished by staff. “Like everything, we can implement it and reassess it later on to see how effective it is or if it needs change.”

Council agreed, and the issue will return so councillors can finalize the details of the plan.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca