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Extreme heat events are becoming more common, and communities are learning to adapt

Extreme heat events are becoming more common, and communities are learning to adapt

People who attended the Hinterland Music Festival this summer spent a day outside watching performances in 106-degree heat.

With climate change, extreme weather events are becoming increasingly common, and extreme heat is part of the package. Some people are coming up with creative — and sometimes expensive — ways to cope. IPR’s Lindsey Moon revisits the Hinterland music festival to find out about one of those.

We’ll also find out what extreme heat does to our bodies and what we can do to protect ourselves, plus the connection between climate change and public health and why extreme heat disproportionately affects some communities more than others.


  • Joe Sciarrotta| co-owner of Hawkeye Medical Services
  • Michell Sciarrotta| co-owner of Hawkeye Medical Services
  • Mackenzie Udelhoven | nurse
  • Hans House | MD, MACM, FACEP, Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine
  • Lina Tucker Reinders| Executive Director Iowa Public Health Association
  • Tam Marcus | Linn County Sustainability Director

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B.C.’s event organizers adapt to post-COVID uncertainties

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Some festivals are going ahead this year, others are sitting out another year

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For two years, public safety has taken precedence over public festivities. No matter the cultural or community importance, health measures came first.

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Now that public festivals and outdoor events have a green light to return to full capacity, some event organizers are gearing up. For others, the Feb. 16 lifting of restrictions on outdoor gatherings came too late.

Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi Parade, which was scheduled for April 14, was cancelled, in part due to the timing, said Moninder Singh, president of Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar.

Families typically spend months preparing the delicious food that is provided free to the thousands of parade goers — it’s all part of sewa, which means selfless service — and they invest time and money to rent tents and make the fare.

“The public parade takes about one year of preparation in advance, and in the last four to five months we are booking things like traffic and fire safety plans, and making announcements, and that leads to families planning and creating booths,” said Singh. “In February, when we made the decision (to cancel), there was still too much uncertainty.”

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In addition, non-refundable deposits for private security would have to be paid in advance.

“There were still fears that potentially it might be delayed again, and as a charity and non profit, losing out on money that had come to us through donations didn’t seem responsible.”

Singh said the community has been supportive.

“The celebrations will continue in different ways,” said Singh.

The annual Vaisakhi Parade in Surrey in 2017.
The annual Vaisakhi Parade in Surrey in 2017. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

Other community events that have long been part of the fabric of the city will return, including the Honda Celebration of Light.

“We are well into planning, and we will definitely be back,” said executive producer Paul Runnals. “We are delighted.”

Runnals said his team was carefully tracking events around the globe late last year when Omicron appeared, to figure out what might be possible.

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“We thought it would peak and subside, we knew vaccination rates were extremely high, and we had confidence that conditions would become much more favourable,” said Runnals.

The event will mark its 30th anniversary with a three-night spectacle July 23, 27 and 30, but pandemic-related challenges remain.

“There are some supply chain issues. A lot of people left the industry because they had to go make a living, so there is a staffing shortage. Some suppliers have gone out of business, and costs have gone up significantly for international shipping,” said Runnals.

Paul Runnals is the executive director of the Honda Celebration of Light, which is going ahead this summer.
Paul Runnals is the executive director of the Honda Celebration of Light, which is going ahead this summer. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

Laura Ballance, spokesperson for a number of events, including the Canada Cup Women’s International Softball Championship, which will be held June 20–26 in Surrey, said the tournament will go ahead because international teams feel safe coming to Canada.

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“Internationally, our reputation for COVID safety is high,” said Ballance. “Many teams are saying we are only going to go to one international competition, and we are going to come to you.”

While some major events like the PNE are on, others have not yet confirmed whether they will happen this year and some, like the Cloverdale Rodeo, have cancelled.

Ballance said each event has to make the decision that is right for them, and for their attendees.

Karen Zukas, executive producer of the Fort Langley jazz festival.
Karen Zukas, executive producer of the Fort Langley jazz festival. Photo by Francis Georgian /PNG

The Fort Langley Jazz & Arts Festival will be back with live indoor and outdoor events after two summers where festival producers had to hold virtual and hybrid events due to COVID restrictions.

“We are into full planning mode for a large in-person festival July 21-24,” said producer Karen Zukas. Uncertainty is something she has learned to work with, and expect.

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“We’ve learned to be flexible, we’ve learned to navigate, we’ve learned to be resilient and to forge ahead,” said Zukas. “We always have to have plan B, C and D.”

And there are new elements to the planning, including taking care of their audiences. “We want to make sure people feel safe, particularly at indoor events,” said Zukas.

“We are prepared to do whatever is necessary. Jazz fans are a little bit older typically, and their comfort level is a little lower. They may be more cautious, so they want practices and protocols to make sure they are safe, whatever that may be.”

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