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Two Nations, One Shared Massive Heat Wave: Canada Day And Fourth Of July Will Be Firecracker Hot

image of Canadian flag and American flag
Flickr, scazon
Canada Day 2021 will be Thursday, July 1 and Independence Day will be Sunday, July 4.

39 degrees ... in a heat wave? Wait a minute ... what?

Oh, you mean Celsius.

“So, if I were to say to you, ‘36 degrees,’ that doesn't sound so bad,” said Paul Karchut, director of CBC Radio One Calgary’ Eye Opener morning broadcast.

“It's going to be pretty unrelenting. And because of that, the city is putting in an emergency heat strategy where they'll have portable water stations and they're turning on every spray park they possibly can within the city.”

Just prior to Canada’s biggest summer holiday, Morning Edition host George Prentice visits with Karchut to talk about an unrelenting forecast for Canada Day and the 4th of July, how Calgary is distributing so-called “Fun-at-home Canada Day” kits, and how the province of Alberta and Calgary are handling safety COVID-19 safety protocols a bit differently.

“The thing that's different about this is that we usually have the beautiful benefit of cooler evenings and we're not going to be getting that. And it's going to be pretty unrelenting.”
Paul Karchut

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It's Morning Edition. Good morning. I'm George Prentice, and it's just about time to celebrate. Our friends north of the border have Canada Day on July 1st; and of course, the 4th of July follows soon thereafter. So, this morning we thought it would be appropriate and a bit of fun to link up with our friends at CBC in Calgary… CBC Radio One Calgary broadcasts Eye Opener right about the time that we bring you Morning Edition. So, we share more than just a common border. Paul Karchut is here. He is the director of the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One. Paul, good morning.

PAUL KARCHUT: Good morning. Yes, fellow early risers!

PRENTICE: Up top, maybe we could compare notes. Can you tell us how Alberta is doing as far as reopening?

welcome to Alberta sign
CC2.0, flickr
The province of Alberta and the city of Calgary are at odds over reopening protocols.

KARCHUT: So much of this is linked to vaccination rates. And we have a 3-stage reopening plan, the most aggressive in Canada, which is an interesting thing, because we also had some of the highest case numbers in Canada. And even just a short month ago, we had some serious case numbers in Alberta. But vaccines in arms have clearly proven effective. So have lockdown measures. So, we now find ourselves in Stage 2 of the reopening. Stage 2 is pretty wide reaching. Movie theaters have reopened. You can dine indoors again at restaurants. You can have up to 19 friends and yourself in your backyard…it still has to be outside, but you can be together. So that's just a fraction of what we're talking about here in terms of the Stage 2 of reopening. Stage 3 in Alberta takes effect on July 1st. And at that point, it's part of what the Alberta government calls the “Open for Summer” plan. It's been contentious because some say it's happening too quickly, especially because the new Delta variant is coming to the fore. And we're seeing Delta variant cases in Alberta. But Stage 3 on July 1st means that basically there are no restrictions.

There are a few exceptions: if you're riding the bus, you've got to have a mask on. If you're in a long term care home or in a particular type of hospital facility, there will still be restrictions in place. And if you're not feeling well, then it's still asked that you isolate and go and get a test for yourself. Masks are no longer required. But there is an interesting thing happening as well, because this is mandated by the Alberta government; but here in the city of Calgary, City Council has opted to keep its mask bylaw in place until July 5th. And that means that there's this split right now, and the province isn't too happy with the city on this because they're saying, “Hey, listen, this is what we're saying. And you're bypassing that decision. You know, you're muddying the waters.” And it's an interesting time because we have some optimism. Yet there's also still some fear going on with this Delta variant. And just where is this kind of aggressive reopening going to take us?

PRENTICE: And to that end, I want to make sure I get this right. I read about a “Fun at Home Canada Day Kit” being distributed in Calgary.

KARCHUT: Yeah, that's right. Yeah. And so, the idea is that because, again, the city is taking a bit more cautious approach here compared to the province. And so, the idea being that, let's not have the traditional Canada Day celebrations that we would see in downtown Calgary, with thousands of people jamming the streets and food trucks and a big, big stage with big concerts. Instead, they're saying, “We will have the fireworks. So if you want to go and find a spot where you and a couple of pals can go and watch them safely, then have at her. But also, let's still consider hanging out at home instead.” And this kit comes as part of that.

PRENTICE: And inside the kit are a beach ball and some sidewalk chalk and…

KARCHUT: Yeah, that's right…kind of summery stuff. Just a bit of fun. Right.

PRENTICE: By the way…the world famous Calgary Stampede…will that happen this year?

KARCHUT: Yeah. And so, another bit of contention here. The Stampede will go ahead. And depending on who you ask, people are saying, “Bring it on, let's go.” Others are saying, “I am not going there. You couldn't drag me there with a ten-foot pole…” or whatever the expression would be. But yeah, because the gist is that because we'll have this pretty wide reopening by Stampede by that time.

PRENTICE: Is that…what? The third week of July?

picture of the Saddledome in downtown Calgary
CC2.0, flickr
The city of Calgary enters a Stage 3 reopening plan on July 1, 2021.

KARCHUT: I don't know the dates in front of me, but yeah, it runs for a couple of weeks through July. That means that people can go down there and go on midway rides and go to the rodeo and go to the shows that are happening down on the stages and whatnot. And some decent names…country stars and rock and pop stars coming through. But a lot of people are saying, “No way.” And so, it's an interesting example of the mix of mindsets that are happening right now in this province for sure.

PRENTICE: Paul, I'd be remiss if we didn't talk a bit about the heat…the one thing we do share. Borders do not recognize our weather patterns. And this is intense heat in the Mountain West. I have to guess that you're experiencing what we're experiencing.

KARCHUT: Yeah, it's wild. And I mean, of course, we're going to talk in different temperature measurements here. So, if I were to say to you, “36 degrees,” that doesn't sound so bad. Well, it actually sounds pretty bad for June, but in a different way. But 36 degrees Celsius is the sort of some of the highs that we're expecting to see here.

PRENTICE: In Idaho, we're talking 100-plus.

KARCHUT: Right, exactly. And these are 100-year temperature levels that we're seeing. You know, back in 1914, we saw some really hot days that are comparable. The thing that's different about this is that we're also seeing…like in Montana, we usually have the beautiful benefit of cooler evenings and we're not going to be getting that. And it's going to be pretty unrelenting. And because of that, the city is putting in an emergency heat strategy where they'll have portable water stations and they're turning on every spray park they possibly can within the city, and really putting out the word to people that don't overexert themselves. Watch what you're eating. They're saying make sure you're having salty foods, don't have foods that are too high in protein, things like that, that are really sort of just concrete pieces of advice to try and keep people comfortable and safe during all of this because, yeah, it's it is hot. Really hot.

PRENTICE: Grab some water, my friend. Paul Karchut, Happy Canada Day to you. Thank you, and all the best to your colleagues at CBC Radio from your good friends and shared morning partners down here in Idaho. And thanks for giving us some time this morning.

KARCHUT: Yeah, absolutely. You bet. And Happy July 4th as well.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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