I would like to apologize in advance to the Lovin Spoonful, for altering their song a little. It is one of my favorite summer songs.
Hot town, summer in the city.
Back of my neck getting burned, pretty dirty.
Been down, isn’t it a pity,
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city.
All around, people looking half dead.
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head.
But out at the lake, it’s a different world …
We live in a land of extremes, and it can get mighty hot in the city. So hot that it can be difficult to sleep. To add to this, the way a city is built and the way homes are constructed can make things even hotter in the summer and colder in the winter.
I lived at good old Northland Trailer Park for a number of years. It was a flat space, not a tree in sight. They called it a park because a whole bunch of trailers were parked there, not because it had a park-like setting.
I happened to come in from the bush during a hot spell and it was a scorcher. Trying to sleep in a metal trailer with a flat roof was unbearable. It reminded me of a chapter in a book I had read about the Second World War in Asia. Prisoners of war, if they misbehaved, were but in a metal box in the center of the parade square and left to literally bake, sometimes to death. I couldn’t take the heat anymore, so I drove out to Vee Lake put my canoe in the water, found a shady spot to anchor and went to sleep in the bottom of the canoe covered by a mosquito net.
There is a lot of irony here. The lakes are full of cold water. In a city like Toronto, they actually use cool lake water to cool down some of the buildings in the city. We have lots of cool to cold water which we don’t use, plus we have a permafrost layer we could use for cold. We could use water in winter to help heat some places and we certainly have old mine shafts that go down to warmer zones.
A few years ago, there was talk of building a splash park at considerable expense. Then the government dock flooded due to high water and people used it until the city put a stop to that. Supposedly due to safety concerns. Back when I was a kid our splash park was a lawn sprinkler. I think if they used a little imagination the city could water their lawns and, in the process, create a splash park. We have enough lakes around it seems to me we could make better use of them and find some low-cost ways to cool down the city and give the kids something to do.
When they took down one playground near Somba K’e park did they think of just moving the swings and equipment over a bit for kids to use for the summer. Have they thought of putting in some lawn sprinklers or wading pools to create a splash park? What about roof top sprinklers to cool down some of the buildings. The sprinklers would also act as a good fire deterrent in case a forest fire breaks out.
I can understand why in some cities during heat waves, they put up cooling stations. I don’t think we have need of those yet, but the day will come when downtown Yellowknife could use a little cooling and why not? All that glass, concrete and asphalt certainly makes the place a whole lot hotter then say old town which gets a little coolness from the lake.
The point is we should think out of the box a little and come up with northern solutions to these problems. I remember one really hot spell on the barrens, and someone (OK, it was me) came up with the idea of wetting the tents down so that the evaporation would cool them off a bit. By golly it worked. Amazing what a little water and evaporation will do.