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Calgary shelters look for support as heat wave puts city’s most vulnerable at risk

Calgary will see another stretch of hot weather this week, prompting local agencies that assist the city’s most vulnerable to ask for help.

The extreme heat puts those experiencing homelessness at risk for exhaustion and dehydration.

As such, the Calgary Drop-In Centre is looking to the public for donations to help provide clients with some much-needed relief.

Cindy Ngo, the Drop-In Centre’s director of fund development, says a generous donor will be matching financial contributions up to $25,000.

“We’ve been seeing a significant increase in people ordering outreach supplies, so items such as water bottles, summer clothing, cool drinks, electrolytes, sunglasses, bug spray, you name it. Anything that anyone typically would need to stay cool while outside,” she said.  

Samantha Newborn is one of many who rely on the Calgary Drop-In Centre for shelter and basic needs, and says the extreme heat makes life more challenging.

“We really need some places to cool off, especially being homeless, we need places where we can feel safe and heard like everybody else,” she said.

“We need to always make sure to stay hyrated, like the human body needs a certain amount of water each day and when we’re out here and have no money, where are we going to get a water bottle?”

Meanwhile, The Mustard Seed says it will be utilizing a large amount of donated supplies to help clients during the heat wave.

“Any donation right now could mean the difference between someone having their life saved, to be completely honest,” said David Conrod, senior director of community and volunteer engagement.

“Calgary is an amazing place and when we ask the city to respond, we’re just so incredibly grateful for this kind of support.”

No Calgary cooling centres 

Earlier this month, Vancouver opened several misting stations and cooling centres to help residents combat extreme heat.

Though Calgary is expected to see daytime highs ranging from 28 C to 33 C over the next five days, the City of Calgary said in a statement to CTV News that it is “not opening any indoor facilities specifically because of the heat.”

Instead, city officials are encouraging Calgarians to cool down at wading pools and splash parks. 

The City of Calgary says it works closely with social service partners during heat waves and that its bylaw officers, and that Alpha House’s HELP team (formerly DOAP team) will be working to make sure adequate resources are provided for the homeless population.

CTV Calgary weather specialist Jodi Hughes says temperatures in Calgary are expected to remain high in for at least the next 10 days, if not longer.

“This is going to be very similar to what we had last week, and also what we had under that heat dome. because you have such instability, there’s a high pressure system anchored by two low-pressure systems, so you’ll see a lot of blue sky, but very little wind, or likelihood of any afternoon showers,” she said.

“This is one of those scenarios where it does become quite dangerous, and that’s why we advise folks to take a break, go inside or where its air conditioned, make sure that you’re staying hydrated and this applies to animals as well.”

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