When it’s 30°C and even hotter in Edmonton, water becomes essential, clearly.
But what if you can’t get drinking water? What if you don’t have a home? What if you don’t have a tap?
In late June and into July, a heatwave hit the city. The City of Edmonton activated its extreme weather response.
For seven straight days at Environment Canada’s Blatchford site, the recorded daytime high temperature was hotter than 30 degrees.
A network of agencies, volunteers and City employees jumped into action. Libraries and recreation centres stocked up on water and opened their doors, so people could get out of the heat. Peace Officers handed out water bottles. Donations poured in.
From June 25 to July 23, the City gave out more than 500 bottles of water.
Water bottle filling stations
That weather crisis also sped up some important work: water bottle filling stations.
A municipal policy—Supporting Vulnerable People During Extreme Weather Conditions—requires the City to respond during extreme heat. The Affordable Housing and Homelessness team is always scouting for ways to strengthen that response.
The team got in touch with the City of Vancouver where some fire hydrants were retrofitted to serve as drinking fountains, bottle fillers, misting stations and hand washing stations. The Edmonton planning team recommended taps here.
“It was a neat project and a good cause,” said Trevor Siemens, a City of Edmonton Fab Tech Controller.
Siemens worked on drawings and helped a co-worker make taps that attach to fire hydrants, turning them into water bottle filling stations.
Take a look at their solution:
The pilot project includes five hydrants in parts of the city where it can be difficult to get water.
- Giovanni Caboto Park
109 Avenue at 94 Street, east side
- Michael Phair Park
104 Street, north of Jasper Avenue
- Parkdale Square Shopping Complex
118 Avenue, east of 82 Street
- Butler Memorial Park
100A Avenue, east of 158 Street
- Strathcona Farmers’ Market
83 Avenue, east of 104 Street
In service until the fall
The City deactivated its extreme weather response on July 23.
The five fire hydrants will stay active until October 31. At that time, Affordable Housing and Homelessness will be preparing for -30°C and evaluating whether taps on fire hydrants might belong in more neighbourhoods—where getting fresh water isn’t something everyone takes for granted—next summer.
Editor’s note: the pic at the top of the post shows a City of Edmonton fire hydrant tap on 104 Street, north of Jasper Avenue on July 13, 2021.