Planning for extreme heat

A cool room for you and me: Helen Davidson, Nadine Rayner, Kate Fry and Maureen Magee in the upstairs bar at the Gloucester Soldiers Club. Photo: Anne Keen
A cool room for you and me: Helen Davidson, Nadine Rayner, Kate Fry and Maureen Magee in the upstairs bar at the Gloucester Soldiers Club. Photo: Anne Keen

Project Cool Place finally has a home.

A group of concerned Gloucester residents took it upon themselves to find a place for people to go on days of extreme heat after noticing an increase of days with temperatures over 35 degrees.

Maureen Magee said the concern about people being able to stay cool really kicked into high gear after learning “there were 21 days of over 35 degree heat last summer.”

It originally started as a discussion at a Barrington Tops Greens meeting but has evolved into a small group of people actively asking the community to support the project. And now all their hard work has paid off with the Gloucester Soldiers Club offering a space for anyone to use.

The club is open from 10am until 10pm seven days a week and the community is welcome to use the upstairs bar as a place to escape the extreme heat; the only requirement is that they become a member of the club. Not only is the club open long hours but it also has elevator access and wheelchair lifts to all levels of the building.

Maureen wants the community to know the space is available now and is suitable for everyone from parents with infants to the elderly looking for a place to cool down.

“When people get older it gets harder to function in extreme heat,” she said.

Kate Fry explained how closing all her windows and blinds in a bid to stay cool makes her feel depressed and isolated.

“I have to remind myself to drink and eat,” she said.

“We are told to plan for fire events and rain events but we need to plan for extreme heat. It’s like drink driving; we need a Plan B.”

Maureen said extreme heat events aren’t part of the State Emergency Service (SES) protocol, so it is unable to assist with providing protection from the heat, an issue she believes needs to be rectified as the amount of extreme heat days each summer continues to increase.

Project Cool Place has been successful thanks to community support with the Seventh Day Adventist Church providing a free meeting room for the group and assisting to get the word out to the other churches in Gloucester.

A special mention goes to MidCoast Council deputy mayor Katheryn Smith, who Maureen said has been a big supporter since the beginning and originally suggested the group approach the club for help.

Maureen said that the Bucketts Way Neighbourhood Group and MidCoast Council have also provided support to the project.

Club membership costs $10 per year or three years for $20. Perks of membership include a courtesy bus, raffle, membership draw and ‘Thirsty Thursday’ where the club provides free snacks at the bar.