A Sicamous woman has started a petition to make air conditioning mandatory in housing facilities for seniors across Canada.
The idea for the petition came to Alysha Wolf after visiting her mother at a 55+ residence in Sicamous during the recent heat wave.
“It was the same temperature as outside. The walls were sweating, the fridge was sweating,” said Wolf.
Her mom’s unit didn’t have air conditioning and only one small window.
When Wolf started to look for an air conditioning system for her mom’s unit, she learned her mom’s lease did not allow for any type of air conditioning system except a fan.
Wolf said it should be illegal to prohibit air conditioning systems in leases for seniors homes, and that the buildings should be mandated by government to have air conditioning in the first place.
She said perhaps a government grant could be created for seniors housing without air conditioning so systems could be retrofitted if they become mandated.
“Heat warnings telling a senior to not go outside don’t mean anything when their room is a box of heat,” said Wolf.
From June 25 through July 1, BC Coroners Service recorded 719 deaths – three times the average amount reported in a typical week.
It’s likely the recent heat wave was “a significant contributing factor” to the rise in deaths, said B.C.’s chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe. The province saw temperatures rise above 40 C during in that time period.
Many of the deaths were among older individuals living alone with minimal ventilation, Lapointe said.
Wolf’s petition is on change.org, titled Seniors should have air conditioning in their units.
Above all, Wolf hopes her petition will raise awareness on the issue and inspire provincial and federal governments to act.
With files from Sarah Grochowski