July 11, 2014 6:48 pm
Updated: July 11, 2014 9:00 pm

Beating the heat tough for Edmonton’s homeless population


Watch above: Rising temperatures can be difficult for Edmonton’s homeless, as many have no direct access to water or sunscreen. Eric Szeto finds out more.

EDMONTON – With the temperature expected to soar in the Edmonton area over the next week, staying cool can be tough. But it can be even tougher for those who live on city streets.

Steven Boucher has been living on the street for 11 years. He says finding a place to beat the heat on a hot summer’s day is a challenge.

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“It’s hard, very hard,” he said. “Sometimes we’ll just go make a bed in the bushes instead of sleeping in our tent.”

Friday morning, a group of outreach workers from Boyle Street Community Services hit the streets at dawn to hand out much-needed to supplies like water, bug spray and hats to the city’s most vulnerable.

“It’s sad, but it’s a reality that they’re marginalized and have a tough time just surviving because something as simple as a glass of water can be hard to find for some people,” said Robert Tate, a street outreach worker with Boyle Street Community Services.

Temperatures are expected to reach upwards of 32°C early next week. The extreme heat increases the risk of dehydration and heatstroke, a risk that’s even greater for those with alcohol or drug addictions.

Whether it’s minus 30°C or plus 30°C, Tate says the city’s homeless population needs to be looked after.

“A lot of them just need somebody to care. A lot of people just walk by them, don’t even see them. For us to come up to them and treat them as a person, with some respect, it really brings some meaning to their lives.”

The small gesture means a lot to Kevin, who takes shelter in the River Valley.

“It lets me know that there’s someone there that matters, that cares and there’s somewhere we can go if we’re in trouble or in really dire straits.”

“It helps us morally, but also physically helps us with the water and the bug spray. That’s a lot of help, I’ve never had that before,” added Boucher.

“It makes me feel good. It makes me feel really good, these guys are pretty awesome.”

Boyle Street Community Services hopes people can help, with donations of water, sunscreen, hats and long-sleeved shirts.

With files from Eric Szeto, Global News.


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