As heat returns, Edmonton prepares to help city's most vulnerable

Edmonton is gearing up for a heat wave once again and preparations have begun to help support the city's vulnerable population.

City piloted five water bottle filling stations last year; they have now added 10 more

People cool off in the city hall pool, as temperatures hit 37 degrees Celsius in Edmonton in June 2021. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Edmonton is back in a heat wave and preparations have begun to help support the city's vulnerable population.

Edmonton has provisions in place to deal with extreme low temperatures, but with heat waves becoming more common due to climate change, the city is now looking at providing supports for when temperatures rise above 30 C, like it is forecasted to in the coming week. 

Christel Kjenner, director of affordable housing and homelessness with the City of Edmonton, said the city is taking a number of additional steps to help the homeless population through the heat wave. 

"We successfully piloted five fire hydrant water stations last year. And this year we've tripled that to 15 water bottle filling stations which are installed in high traffic areas across the city," she told CBC's Edmonton AM on Wednesday.

We haven't seen a heat dome yet in Edmonton to match last year, but this summer is still hot. Christel Kjenner is city's director of affordable housing and homelessness and she joins us as the temperature climbs to above 30 C over the next few days.

The city has attached taps to fire hydrants to help keep people hydrated during extreme temperatures. 

Kjenner said they are also looking at police officers doing wellness checks, distributing water bottles and ensuring that folks are able to get transportation between agencies. 

All of this is in addition to measures like opening up public buildings such as recreation centres and libraries for respite from heat.

Last summer, Alberta saw record-breaking temperatures as a heat dome covered most of the province.

During the heatwave, Edmontonians can call 911 if anybody is in distress.

Kjenner said people can also call the city's 24/7 Crisis Diversion Team by dialling 211 and pressing 3 for anyone who needs to be checked up on or if they require transportation to social service agencies. 

Kjenner said the city participated in emergency response committee meetings alongside 25 other stakeholders that include EMS, health services, police, community agencies and homeless shelters to develop a plan. 

"We meet throughout the year to identify trends, challenges and solutions for protecting vulnerable Edmontonians during extreme weather," she said. 


Kashmala Fida Mohatarem is a reporter and associate producer with CBC Edmonton.

With files from Brendan Coulter