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Cooling centres open across North Shore as heat records smashed

High temperatures topped 40°C on Sunday in West Vancouver 🥵🔥
Hot summer nights
A young girl, pictured here in 2018, cools off on a hot summer night. Cooling stations, water parks and beaches are open across the North Shore.

Beaches were packed, cooling centres were opened in local libraries and public spaces, and police were kept busy on the North Shore this weekend as heat records were smashed.

West Vancouver, where official temperatures for the North Shore are recorded, hit a high of 40.6°C at 5 p.m. Sunday – the highest temperature ever recorded on the North Shore since official record keeping began, said Environment Canada meteorologist Louis Kohanyi

The previous record – set in 2015 – was 31.3 degrees.

Monday was another scorcher with the thermometer topping out at 38.9 degrees.

In North Vancouver, RCMP were called out Monday evening to check on an elderly man in a Lower Lonsdale apartment whose neighbour was concerned that he hadn’t been seen. Officers arrived around 7:30 p.m. to find the door ajar and the man unconscious “in very apparent medical distress” having difficulty breathing, said Sgt. Peter Devries, spokesman for the detachment. Police and firefighters gave first aid while on hold waiting for estimated ambulance arrival time. Police then made a “snap decision” to transport the man to hospital themselves, said DeVries.

“The people on scene felt that due to his condition and the heat that it would be best not to wait any longer,” he said.

DeVries said the man remained in stable condition in intensive care on Tuesday.

Both police and ambulance services reported an increase in calls due to the heat.

There was also an increase in numbers of people showing up at Lion’s Gate Hospital’s emergency room with heat-related illness, according to Vancouver Coastal Health.

In one incident, police officers were called to a report of a disoriented man wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt outside of the Lynn Valley library plaza. Police found him unable to answer questions and placed the man in an air-conditioned police car where he went in and out of consciousness. An ambulance was called to transport the man to hospital.

In another case, a member of the public called police to report a man dressed only in his underwear, apparently suffering heat stroke after sitting in the sun for much of the day.

In response to the extreme heat, cooling centres in air-conditioned public spaces were opened across the North Shore over the weekend. Libraries in all three municipalities were providing a space to cool off. In the City of North Vancouver, an additional cooling centre was also opened at the Pipe Shop in the Shipyards district.

Additional “misting stations” were also opened in the City of North Vancouver at the City Hall plaza, and in Victoria, Waterfront and Moodyville parks.

The extreme heat led schools across the North Shore to close Monday for the first time ever because of hot weather. Elementary school classes were also dismissed early on Tuesday - the last official day of school for students - because of the extreme heat.

The District of West Vancouver closed the weight room at Gleneagles Community Centre Monday due to the heat and cancelled fitness sessions later in the day.

Parks and beaches, including Ambleside Beach, were busy on the weekend despite high temperatures, said district spokeswoman Michaela Garstin.

Three beach fires were also reported over the weekend, in the Dundarave and Ambleside areas.

Firefighters in both North and West Vancouver are doing extra patrols in the evening, in light of the high fire risk.

BC Hydro reported that demand for power also hit new summer records three days in a row between Saturday and Monday, reaching a record 8,516 megawatts on Monday evening as residents turned on fans and air conditioners to keep cool.

North Shore residents took to social media to report their stay-cool tips which ranged from frequent dips in the ocean and local creeks, soaking in a cool bucket of water, keeping facecloths in the freezer and a spray bottle of water set to mist in the fridge for a quick cool off.

After five days of extreme heat, temperatures were expected to moderate starting Wednesday, according to Environment Canada, with overnight lows dipping back to about 15 degrees.