News / Edmonton

Edmonton homeless shelters need water donations

As AHS issues heat advisories and suggests people stay hydrated, homeless people struggle to do so, and shelters that offer bottled water are running low.

Ed Major loads Hope Mission’s van with a flat of water. Major said he drives the van all around the city, and people are happy to get water when they see it.

Braeden Jones/Metro

Ed Major loads Hope Mission’s van with a flat of water. Major said he drives the van all around the city, and people are happy to get water when they see it.

When the temperature soars, homeless people in Edmonton turn to shelters for bottled water.

Trouble is, the shelters are running out of water and say they badly need donations.

Hope Mission delivers and transports flats of bottled water around the city in its 24/7 rescue van, a converted ambulance that provides year-round basic care and offers rides to Hope Mission shelters.

Spokesperson Rachel Chan said the organization is putting out a call for bottled water and other supplies like light clothing and hats because the demand has spiked this week.

“The last few days have been hot, and last weekend was hot as well, so we are really in need,” she said.

Chan said it’s hard for most people to stay well on extremely hot days, but without the kindness of others it’s way harder for homeless people.

 “Having access to a bottle of water to stave off dehydration is key to staying healthy,” she said. “We’re running low.”

She said people willing to donate flats of water can do so at the main Hope Mission building on 106 Avenue between 9 and 5.

Marliss Taylor, a program manager at the Boyle Street Community Services shelter, said they’re feeling the need as well.

“We absolutely need water donations,” she said, adding that although people are able to enter the shelter to get water, they’ll be outside for hours after and “not realize they are getting dry.”

She said donations of water, sunscreen, long sleeve shirts, summer hats, and new socks and underwear would all be appreciated.

Bottled water ‘like Holy Water’

Due to extremely high temperatures, Alberta Health Services issued a heat advisory for the Edmonton Zone Wednesday, effective until mid-day Friday.

In a prepared statement, Dr. Joanna Oda, the officer of health for the Edmonton Zone, said “normal activity that may be safe on a cool day might be dangerous in current weather conditions,” adding people should “look-out for our neighbours.”

The advisory recommends residents and visitors take breaks from heat in cooled buildings, wear sunscreen or light clothing and drink plenty of water.

But for some of Edmonton’s homeless population, none of those recommendations are always possible.

Janson Andrew, who’s been homeless for 13 years, said he never knows if there’s a heat advisory and doesn’t care if it’s 25 or 30 degrees Celsius.

“Hot is hot,” he said, adding he never knows the temperature. “The less you know the less it hurts.”

On days when other people fill up a water bottle at home or dress for the weather, Andrew wears what he has and tries to find a public water fountain to drink.

“If I can find it,” he said, noting sometimes they are out of order and then he’s just “out of luck.”

Andrew doesn’t get to check forecasts, so starts his day like he normally would, bright and early around 7 a.m. and keeps to the shade as the sun gets higher.

Throughout the day, he said avoiding heat stroke is just a matter of luck.

“Sometimes, you get lucky, meet nice people,” he said. “You’ll get a bottle of water… that’s like Holy Water.”

He said he’s found that there are “not enough” places to pick up bottled water, and when he doesn’t find any, he circles back to public fountains and waits for the sun to go down for relief.

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