Urban Heat Ready
Surrey City Centre is getting Urban Heat Ready. Learn about Surrey's involvement in the Urban Heat Ready project.
Urban Heat Ready is a two-year project funded by the Real Estate Foundation of BC that brings together residents, community partners, development professionals and City staff to collaborate and co-create solutions to minimize urban heat impacts in Surrey City Centre.
This project supports the City’s Climate Adaptation Strategy to address a key climate change risk and vulnerability identified under the plan’s Human Health and Safety sector, Minimizing the Urban Heat Island Effect.
Surrey is Getting Hotter
Climate change projections for Metro Vancouver suggest that Surrey will experience hotter and drier summers in the years to come. Dense urban areas like Surrey City Centre are already hotter than other parts of the city.
Why are Cities Hotter?
- Fewer trees, shrubs and green spaces for cooling
- Building materials absorb heat
- Urban design (building dimensions and spacing) traps heat
- More human-caused heat in dense, urban areas (e.g. more cars, waste heat from air conditioning)
The Urban Heat Island Effect
According to Health Canada, the urban heat island (UHI) effect is a phenomenon where the outdoor air temperature that surrounds us (ambient temperature) in an urban area is hotter than that of surrounding rural areas. UHIs occur when there are few trees and green spaces and a lot of dark surfaces such as tar roofs, asphalt roads and parking lots.
Heat Can Be Dangerous
In late June 2021, British Columbia experienced an unprecedented heat dome which resulted in record-breaking temperatures and wide-ranging impacts. The BC Coroners Service reported that 619 individuals passed away because of the extreme heat, and that 98 per cent of these deaths occurred indoors. They also found that 67 per cent of people who died were over the age of 70, and that 56 per cent of all deceased lived alone.
Who is at risk?
Extreme heat impacts everyone but health risks are greatest for:
- Older adults
- Infants and young children
- People with chronic illness or who are physically impaired
- Individuals and communities who are socially disadvantaged
- People with low income
- People who are precariously housed or homeless
- People living alone / socially isolated
- Refugees and newcomers to Canada
- People working or exercising outdoors
See full list of communities at risk of heat impacts and examples of challenges they may face in adapting to extreme heat events.
The Urban Heat Ready project has three main goals:
- Understand community cooling needs and existing cooling solutions and best practices.
- Generate ideas on how to develop and urbanize with heat in mind.
- Collaborate with community members to co-create lasting solutions to urban heat.
Why focus on Surrey City Centre?
- One of the hottest neighbourhoods in Surrey
- In August 2017, the City partnered with researchers from Portland State University to map out the City’s heat landscapes. The purpose of this study was to identify areas within the City that may be more susceptible to the urban heat island effect – Surrey City Centre was identified as one of the hottest neighbourhoods in the City.
- Home to many of Surrey’s most at-risk populations
- Lowest average household income in Surrey
- High percentage of low-income seniors
- High level of energy poverty
- Rapidly growing and densifying
- By 2046, it is estimated that close to 10% of the Surrey population will be living in Surrey’s City Centre.
Equity is a core value of the Urban Heat Ready project. This means:
- Acknowledging that environmental inequalities, like exposure to heat, often exists in majority low-income neighbourhoods and in marginalized communities
- Pursuing inclusive practices that value, uplift and amplify the voices and experiences of marginalized communities
- Understanding how the City’s systems, policies and procedures might create barriers that maintain these inequalities
- Prioritizing and redirecting resources towards dismantling these barriers
The Urban Heat Ready Project was launched in February 2020. The project is guided by staff and consultants and is stewarded through the work of an advisory and steering committee.
The overarching phases to the project are:
February – June 2020
July – October 2020
Reflection and Action
November 2020 – May 2022
June – September 2022
Wrap Up and Legacy Building
October 2022 – December 2022
Thank you to everyone who completed our online survey in October 2020. Review the Community Survey Engagement Report.
Help shape an Urban Heat Ready City Centre. Sign up for the City’s Sustainability & Climate Action News & Updates to stay up to date on opportunities to get involved with the project.
Explore the Conversation Guide for Residents for inspiration on how you can take action on urban heat in your neighbourhood!
For more information about this project, please contact the project team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project is made possible with funding support from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia and the Vancouver Foundation.