His apartment gets hot, but Gron says he can manage. When the afternoon sun beats in through the sliding glass door, which faces west, he puts a black umbrella outside to absorb some of the heat. Between this and the fans, he says, he makes do.
Gron does not have an air conditioner. Some of his neighbours who have them received letters from their landlord telling them their tenancy agreement prohibits them and they have to be removed. Gron has been living in the apartment for 18 years, he explains. He is paying below-market rent and does not want to make trouble. So he’s never asked for permission to install one.
The summer in Metro Vancouver is hotter than usual and by early August, Gron is in distress.
“This is too much,” he says of the heat, when reached by phone. He has heart failure, he says, and had to go to the hospital at the end of July due to shortness of breath. He adds that he really would like an air conditioner.
Two days later, when reached by phone on a Friday afternoon to confirm an interview time the following week, Gron’s tone has changed. He raises his voice, sounds confused and says he no longer wants to participate in CBC’s heat tracking project.
The next night, CBC’s sensor data shows the temperature in Gron’s apartment was 29 degrees. A friend checking in on him became so concerned that he brought Gron an air conditioner from his own apartment.
On Sunday, Gron’s breathing problems returned and he was admitted to Surrey Memorial Hospital, where he died in the early hours of Monday, Aug. 14.