Saskatoon charities fight a heat wave and a pandemic

Article content continuedLyn Brown, executive director of Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP), sa

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Lyn Brown, executive director of Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP), said many on the streets are at risk.

“Many of our individuals facing the challenges of being homeless are also health compromised,” Brown said. “Not being able to cool down during extreme heat will put these individuals at risk for serious complications including heat stroke, delirium, unconsciousness and dehydration.”

In 2018 community groups, the city of Saskatoon and other partners created a heat strategy to provide water and 24/7 access to “cooling spaces” to vulnerable people in the city. 

At level one — when the temperature reaches 30 C —a network of “cooling spaces” across different drop-in sites opens, including city-owned leisure spaces, spray parks and paddling pools.Those spaces are open to anyone, regardless of whether they’re intoxicated or their name is on a “do not admit” list. 

This week, the temperatures got high enough to trigger level three, meaning emergency shelter beds were also made available to people on that list.

A city spokesman said that alert was issued when temperatures rose on Tuesday, and ended on Friday as temperatures dropped to the high 20s.

Brown said COVID-19 means indoor spaces like libraries are no longer available and cooling centres have had to reduce their occupancy to comply with social distancing rules.

That means handing out bottled water is a priority.

Brown said SHIP received a $1,000 donation from the Kinsmen Club of Saskatoon and the organization is spending it on bulk water purchases.