Increased demand reported by heat charities
By Jenn Watt
Published Jan. 18, 2018
The traditional Canadian winter that hit the Highlands early and has persisted with nose-stickingly cold temperatures for much of January has kept demand steady at the county’s two heat-based charities, Heat Bank Haliburton County and Fuel for Warmth.
At the heat bank, co-ordinator Tina Jackson said 26 intakes were done in December for people with heat or hydro-related crises, compared to 15 done in December of 2016.
Fuel For Warmth had a similar start to the chilly season.
“So far this winter, we are experiencing an increase in demand for our services of about 10 per cent over the same period last year,” wrote Lorne McNeil, treasurer of Fuel for Warmth, in an email to the Times.
Requests started earlier than usual, McNeil said, in the first week of November.
The Heat Bank similarly saw requests earlier, which makes organizer John Teljeur think they’ll get hit with another wave of calls at the end of this month as fuel runs low.
“We’re still getting distress calls from people who are running lower than they normally would. We’re seeing a lot of new people that we’ve never dealt with before who normally would have enough fuel or wood to get through the winter,” Teljeur said.
The heat bank has wood stored up at depots around the county and at this point Teljeur said they aren’t concerned about firewood.
“Wood, we’re going to be fine. Fuel wise, we’re always looking for additional donations,” he said.
“There’s a minimum delivery charge [for fuel]. You have to order so much for it to be delivered. We can always use additional funds just to be sure.”
Last year, the heat bank gave out nearly $14,000 to help with hydro and heat emergencies, Jackson said, with another $10,685 sourced by the charity for clients.
“Much of this amount came from the 4Cs of Haliburton County through our agreement with them to conduct intake and referrals,” she wrote in an email to the paper.
During that time, the charity helped 105 households consisting of 238 people.
“If things continue as they have been this winter, we will exceed those numbers this year,” Jackson said.
Thirty-three of those families were from Minden Hills, five from Algonquin Highlands, 28 from Dysart et al and 39 from Highlands East.
Fuel for Warmth is likewise bracing for an increase in clients, McNeil said.
“We forecast that the increase in demand for the entire winter will be roughly 15 per cent higher than last year, meaning we will be assisting about 250 individuals and families,” he said.
The money raised from the Christmas Shindig, more than $23,000, will go to helping more clients than in previous years and to provide “roughly twice the amount of assistance to each client” than was given two years ago, he said.
To get in touch with Fuel for Warmth, go to www.fuelforwarmth.com or call 705-286-6838 (after hours: 705-489-3324 or 705-286-2990). The Heat Bank Haliburton County can be reached at www.heatbankhc.ca or call 705-306-0565.