A woman suffering from the heat fans herself

City and Park Board activating additional heat safety measures in response to Environment Canada heat warning

July 28 2021 –

The City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation are putting additional measures in place as part of its heat response plan following the heat warning issued by Environment Canada for this weekend. 

We activate our heat response plan, prepared and updated annually since 2010, when Environment Canada issues a heat warning (level one response), or when Vancouver Coastal Health issues an extreme heat alert (level two). The following additional measures are on top of regular City services available to residents during hot weather (see below). 

Types of warnings   

Heat warning (issued by Environment Canada): Level 1 heat response

Examples of heat response:

  • Activate cooling centres
  • Monitor outdoor spaces for people suffering from heat-related illness
  • Implement a hot weather support plan for tenants in City’s non-market housing (including wellness checks, providing bottled water, and fans)
  • Provide heat safety information to community partners and SROs, requesting additional checks and supports for one another

Extreme heat alert (issued by Vancouver Coastal Health): Level 2 heat response

Additional measures used as part of a level two response include: 

  • All level 1 measures
  • Extension of hours at some cooling centres
  • Heavy misters in the Downtown Eastside (provided by Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services)
  • “Pop up” spray locations in 15 parks using irrigation systems (provided by Vancouver Park Board)

This heat response plan is a cross-departmental effort involving staff from across the City including Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, Vancouver Public Library, Vancouver Fire Rescue Services, and Vancouver Police Department.

Regular supports outside of a heat warning and/or extreme heat alert

Supports to cope with hot weather are available to Vancouver residents throughout the summer, even if there is no heat warning or extreme heat alert. Currently, residents can:

  • Visit community centres and libraries with air-conditioning (or community centres and libraries without a/c, but which can still provide shade and a break from the heat)
  • Drink or fill bottles from over 200 permanent water fountains around town, as well as temporary water fountains, handwashing stations, and misting stations (all temporary infrastructure have bottle fillers on the side)
  • Beat the heat and seek shade at parks, beaches, and swimming pools (advance registration required at pools)
  • Visit a water spray park or wading pool
  • Take pets to an off-leash park with water access:
    • Sunset Beach Park
    • Hadden Park
    • Spanish Banks Beach Park
    • John Hendry (Trout Lake) Park
    • New Brighton Park

We encourage people to prepare for periods of heat by staying hydrated, keeping cool, and staying informed by checking weather updates and using information on our website and social media channels about how to stay safe in the summer heat

Watch for the symptoms of heat-related illness , learn about home treatment for mild heat exhaustion, and when to seek medical care.

Looking out for people vulnerable to heat

It is also important to look out for and support friends, family, and neighbours who may be especially vulnerable:

  • Older adults, especially those living alone, and children younger than five years old
  • People with pre-existing illnesses or taking certain medications
  • People who are isolated or experiencing homelessness
  • Outdoor workers
  • People with addictions who may be more likely to be dehydrated as a side effect of substance use
  • Anyone who isn’t acclimatized to our weather
  • Anyone left in a hot environment like a closed car, or in direct sun

Review of our heat response

Following the tragic deaths of more than 800 people in BC during the recent extreme heat alert, we're conducting an in-depth, multi-phase review to look at what can be added to our existing heat response measures this summer, as well as in the long-term. The first phase of this review has taken place with outcomes to be reported to Council in the coming weeks. 

Based on preliminary recommendations arising out of our review,we'll be implementing a number of changes in the following areas:

Cooling centres

  • Implement overnight hours during a level two extreme heat alert (note that extended cooling centre hours will be in place at some locations during this level one alert)
  • Update standards for operating hours and days
  • Identify and communicate pet-friendly cooling centres 

Access to drinking water

  • Formalize bottled water donations through Food Bank for distribution to community
  • Maintain bottled water at City of Vancouver Central Stores for rapid distribution


  • Collaboration/advocacy with Public Health
  • Update online and other materials to convey seriousness of extreme heat alert (level two)

Staff will also be analyzing more detailed data from BC Coroners as this is made available over the coming months, to better assess who is most impacted and what additional measures are are needed for future extreme heat events.