Sunday, May 19, 2024
May 19, 2024

Editorial: On the map

Government officials and weather experts have called the 2021 heat dome the deadliest weather event in Canadian history. 

Now, with climate projections tending toward hotter temperatures, less rain and more extreme heat in coming summers, we feel compelled to append the words, “so far.” 

If a silver lining can be imagined for an event that claimed the lives of hundreds of people in B.C. — and dozens within the Capital Regional District (CRD) — it would be that officials collected and analyzed so much temperature data it seems they have created a solid foundation to plan for the next one. The CRD’s Climate Action Program team has put together a sobering map from a spectacularly large amount of gathered, real-world data — ground and air temperatures, age and health demographics, even building and landscaping information. Combined, the map paints a somewhat dire picture, showing high vulnerability in Ganges to future heat events — and, to a lesser extent, in parts of Salt Spring’s north end.  

At first blush, it might seem obvious; it’s certainly not unexpected to imagine the population centre of any demonstrably aging population looking more susceptible to events that disproportionately affect older people. In many ways, the new “heat map” might be seen as simply a map of where most of our oldest islanders make their homes. But that reduction changes little from a planning perspective; any analysis that shows such clear potential for disaster — particularly during an event we’re told to expect — demands action. 

We look forward to hearing how local and regional planners will use the detailed, well-sourced data presented at the CRD’s Extreme Heat Information Portal to prepare and protect our older population — as well as everyone else — as the focus on climate resiliency sharpens. 

Everyone should visit heat.prepareyourself.ca/pages/learn to view the mapping, and to read valuable resources and stories about ways we can be prepared for, and during, the next extreme heat event.

Hopefully, forewarned is indeed forearmed.   

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