Langley Advance Times is offering this weekly feature called it “At Your Service.”
It’s another forum in which to put questions to our local politicians about key issues facing our community and its residents.
Using a basic question-and-answer format, elected officials will be asked one question at a time and given the opportunity to respond (to a maximum of 250 words) on that said issue.
Alternating between elected groups, Langley City and Langley Township councils, Langley school board, Langley MLAs, and Langley MPs each have a chance to participate.
The answers provided will be published in their entirety online Sundays.
Langley Township council was asked: Should the Township work with the school district to create emergency cooling centres in schools during times of extreme heat?
Mayor Jack Froese
A. This council member failed to reply to this query, prior to deadline.
Councillor Petrina Arnason
A. Given the occurrence of extended heat domes, the Township needs to be more collaborative with all stakeholders, including the school district, in order to provide cooling centres and other options to protect our most vulnerable citizens.
Emergency cooling centres are currently a part of the Township’s operational strategy based on community weather alerts. Our framework coordinates with the province’s community emergency preparedness fund, which includes extreme heat risk mapping and planning.
In addition to advising the community regarding cooling centres and other infrastructure, I feel that the Township needs to embed an updated policy amendment into our current climate action strategy for this purpose.
This would facilitate more direct action and pro-actively address the impacts of climate change arising from the heat island effects, which arise from urban design and lack of shade, most specifically. This can be devastatingly consequential for those who are medically compromised, elderly, or homeless, as evidenced by last year’s data on heat-related mortality.
As excessive heat is broadly related to a number of social, health, and equity considerations, the Township should also develop a robust policy within a focused service division responsive to the coordination of cooling centers, homelessness outreach, as well as seniors lacking access to adequate cooling.
I also support the modification of current building codes in order to create climate-adapted housing, as well as a review of potential financial incentives to retrofit dwelling units and provide access to other lower cost cooling options for residents.
Councillor David Davis
A. Absolutely , as well as community centres and libraries.
Councillor Steve Ferguson
A. Yes definitely work with the school district.
And churches, community centres, libraries, and recreation centres. The private sector (malls, coffee shops, restaurants, and the like), too.
When situations get extremely hot and challenging, it is extremely important to work with residents to provide much needed cooling centres.
One last thing is to check on those shut-ins who do not have the resources or where-with-all to get out to the centres, or are isolated. Keeping in contact with them and helping where needed!
Councillor Margaret Kunst
A. Yes, we do!
We lost 619 people in B.C. in last year’s heat dome.
With extreme weather conditions becoming more prevalent, we need to ensure people at risk have a safe place to stay cool.
Unfortunately, transportation to these cooling centres is a barrier for some in our community, particularly seniors due to loss of a licence, mobility issues, or living in a rural area with little to no family or friends for support.
A few months ago, I put forward a motion that was supported by council to explore the feasibility of a senior’s shuttle in the Township of Langley to address the concerns of seniors experiencing social isolation.
There is a similar shuttle running very successfully in Delta for many years. They also use it to transport people to cooling centres in their community.
It would be great to have something like this in the Township of Langley, and I look forward to working on this in the future.
Stay cool everyone and remember to check in on those who may need a cool place to stay!
Councillor Bob Long
A. Certainly The Township should indeed work with all potential partners to make the community safer.
Councillor Kim Richter
Due to climate change, cooling centres are now a logical and necessary extension of emergency preparedness in any community.
In my opinion, these cooling centres should also be supported and funded by the provincial government, which requires all communities to have emergency preparedness plans in place.
Councillor Blair Whitmarsh
The Township of Langley has more than 20 locations for people to stay cool between municipal facilities, regional parks, and spray parks.
This can be found at: https://bit.ly/3IRh6eA
It is always good to partner with local community groups and other levels of government as we work to make our community better. Working with the school district would be a positive partnership, as we help our residents stay cool in the heat.
Councillor Eric Woodward
Next week’s Langley school district trustees are being asked: Is the district ready to accept more refugees in the coming school year, whether from Afghanistan, Ukraine, or elsewhere?
Watch for their answers online Sunday.