New Public Health guidance for landlords and stratas encourages removal of rules against air conditioning
Public Health at Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and Fraser Health have issued new guidance for landlords and managers of rental housing, and residential strata corporations providing strata housing in the Lower Mainland. The guidance is to encourage the removal of barriers that prevent residents from staying cool during heat events.
“Historically in the Lower Mainland, rental and strata housing units have tenancy agreements, or strata bylaws, that can prevent the installation of air conditioning and other cooling measures, sometimes because of concerns about the building envelope, power usage or aesthetics,” said Dr. Michael Schwandt, VCH Medical Health Officer. “However summers are now getting hotter in the Lower Mainland and we all need to reconsider previous practices.”
“Landlords and strata corporations can make impactful decisions to help protect the health of residents,” said Emily Newhouse, Fraser Health Medical Health Officer. “We’re recommending they remove barriers that prevent residents from staying cool.”
B.C. is experiencing higher annual summer temperatures and more extremely hot days due to climate change. Western Canada is already on average one to two degrees warmer than it was in the 1940s (source: Canada in a Changing Climate; Government of Canada). During the 2021 heat dome, a high percentage of the people who died lived alone in housing without air conditioning.
The Summer Heat, Smoke And Health: Recommended Actions For Owners And Managers Of Rental And Strata Housing was developed to help residents adapt to the changing climate, no matter what kind of housing they live in.
“In recent years, B.C. has experienced prolonged periods of hot temperatures with minimal overnight cooling,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer. “We encourage everyone to remain mindful that high indoor temperature can be dangerous, especially to vulnerable people and those more susceptible to heat-related illness. Ensuring people are able to access a cool place in their home or residence is important to prevent heat-related illness during these increasingly frequent heat events.”
The new guidance — posted on both the VCH and Fraser Health websites, and sent to local landlord and strata associations for dissemination — also includes information about who is most at risk from high heat, advice for heat wellness checks among residents and neighbours, creating a cool room in buildings with common areas, and more. Additional information related to heat and air quality for the general public and for businesses, non-governmental agencies, schools and child-care facilities, and other sectors can be found here: www.vch.ca/heat and www.fraserhealth.ca/heatsafety.
Vancouver Coastal Health is committed to delivering exceptional care to 1.2 million people, including the First Nations, Métis and Inuit in our region, within the traditional territories of the Heiltsuk, KitasooXai'xais, Lil'wat, Musqueam, N'Quatqua, Nuxalk, Samahquam, shíshálh, Skatin, Squamish, Tla'amin, Tsleil-Waututh, Wuikinuxv, and Xa'xtsa. VCH is British Columbia’s hub of health-care innovation, research and academic excellence, providing specialized care to patients throughout the province. Learn more at vch.ca.
Fraser Health is responsible for the delivery of hospital and community-based health services to over 1.9 million people in 20 diverse communities from Burnaby to Fraser Canyon on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Coast Salish and Nlaka’pamux Nations, and is home to six Métis Chartered Communities.
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