Surrey City Centre is getting Urban Heat Ready. Learn about Surrey's involvement in the two-year Urban Heat Ready project.

Surrey City Centre is Getting Urban Heat Ready!

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What is Urban Heat Ready?

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 due to the urban heat island effect.

 

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.

Figure 1: This figure shows the temperature variance due to the urban heat island effect across different areas in a City. Source: Urban Land Institute, 2019

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)

Heat Can Be Dangerous

An eight-day heat wave in 2009 saw temperatures of 34°C+ and contributed to 156 deaths across Metro Vancouver.

Who is at risk?

Extreme heat impacts everyone but health risks are greatest for:

  • Older adults
  • Infant and young children
  • People with chronic illness or who are physically impaired
  • Individuals and communities who are socially disadvantaged
    • People (or households) with low income
    • People who are precariously housed or homeless
    • People living alone / socially isolated
  • Refugees and newcomers to Canada
  • Other

See full list of communities at risk of heat impacts and examples of challenges they may face in adapting to extreme heat events.

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.
Figure 2: 2017 Surrey Heat Map – Afternoon Temperature. This map displays relative temperature across Surrey during a heatwave in summer 2017. Dark red indicates the hottest areas, dark blue the coolest. Source: City of Surrey, 2017

Equity

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

Project 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.

Project Timeline

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:

Phase 1: Project Preparation (February – May 2020)
Phase 2: Planning for Engagement (June – July 2020)
Phase 3: Community Engagement (August – October 2020)
Phase 4: Reflection and Action Planning (November – April 2021)
Phase 5: Community Engagement (May – September 2021)
Phase 6: Project Wrap Up and Legacy Building (October – February 2022)

Get Involved

Check back for updates on how you can get involved in this project.

See form below to sign up for Urban Heat Ready News & Updates.

Contact Information

For more information about this project, please contact the project team at sustainability@surrey.ca.

This Project is made possible with funding from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.

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