Power infrastructure in Yellowknife. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
With the majority of Northwest Territories residents displaced from their communities, some are worried about costs at home like internet, rent and utilities, alongside extra expenses since having to evacuate.
We’re reaching out to municipalities, rental companies and other service providers about policies they have in place related to payments in evacuated communities. Here’s the latest information we have.
The NWT Power Corporation (NTPC) – which is the power distributor in some evacuated communities, though not Yellowknife, Hay River, Kakisa or Enterprise – stated in an email that it “recognizes the financial challenges facing customers who have been evacuated from their communities.”
The utility said penalties for late payments will be suspended while evacuation orders remain in place.
Automatic bill payments will continue to be processed for residents in evacuated communities, the corporation said, as they “reflect past electricity consumption.”
NTPC said it continues to provide power in Fort Smith and Jean Marie River, keeping fridges and freezers cold while people are away from home. It noted people will require “considerably less” electricity than normal during this time, which will be reflected in their next bill.
Northland Utilities said in a statement that automatic payments will not be processed for customers in impacted communities until evacuation orders are lifted. Late fees will also be waived until September 30.
“Northland Utilities understands that this has been a difficult time for NWT residents,” the statement from manager Vic Barr reads. “Once evacuation orders are lifted, we will give residents some time to return to their communities and get settled before billing resumes.”
The City of Yellowknife says it will be all waiving late fees and penalties for utility bill payments until further notice. For more information on the city’s online access and services, it says to check out their virtual town hall.
The Town of Fort Smith says it is suspending utility fees for all customers for August, September and October. Utility billing will resume on November 1.
The Town of Hay River decided at an August 29 special council meeting to “waive interest penalties on property tax, water/sewer accounts, and general fees until October 31, 2023, and delay issuance of utility bills until October 1.”
Northwestel said in a press release on Tuesday that home and small business customers from evacuated communities will receive a credit on their bill for the period of the evacuation order.
Residents in the Beaufort Delta, where telecoms services have been slower than normal due to a fault in the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Line, will continue to receive a credit of 50 percent until service is fully restored.
Ice Wireless says its services are temporarily down in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Norman Wells and Hay River. It says if there is availability on partner networks and your plan allows for it, you can roam. Roaming charges may apply but the company said it will waive the first 1GB of charges between August 18 to September 12.
The company says it is allowing impacted customers the extra time they need to allow them to make payments “comfortably.”
Anyone with urgent concerns or requiring assistance can contact Ice Wireless’ customer support team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-833-474-7835.
Virgin Plus is giving “eligible Members in the NWT” an extra 50GB of data to use between August 19 and September 8.
Koodo and Telus are also offering customers additional data for free due to the wildfires.
Bell is adding 50 GB of data for eligible voice and data smartphone subscribers that can be used 21 days from time of application. Data will be automatically added to customers’ accounts. The company says it is also applying a one-month credit for satellite TV customers on their next bill.
Housing NWT clients living in public housing in communities under evacuation order will have their rent prorated. There will be no late fees applied to evacuees. For emergencies, contact Housing NWT 1-844-698-4663.
In an email to tenants that has been publicly shared, Northview Residential REIT said August rent will be prorated from the date of the evacuation order until it is lifted. Tenants whose rent payments have been processed, will have the prorated amount credited to their account.
“In its haste to ensure the safety and well-being of its Yellowknife residents and employees as they evacuated, Northview overlooked the need to disable automated electronic messages that are sent to all residents, including those in Yellowknife, when rent payments are past due prior to the evacuation,” the email dated August 24 stated. “Northview regrets this oversight and advises Yellowknife residents to disregard the automated messages that were sent in August.”
The Tenants Association of the NWT is using Facebook to provide updates and advice related to tenancies and payments.
Midwest Property Management said it is “committed to aiding” people from Yellowknife who are facing significant hardship due to unemployment or lost wages related to wildfire evacuation. It said it will work with individuals to determine rental subsidies. Residents are asked to contact email@example.com for more information.
Triton Property Management did not immediately return a request for comment.
The City of Yellowknife says it will not be charging any late penalties for the property tax installment and final tax levy due on August 31 for those who did not sign up for a pre-authorized payment plan. Pre-authorized monthly payments for property taxes will continue.
The Yellowknife Racquet Club says those needing to temporarily pause their memberships can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to discuss options. It is encouraging people who can to maintain their memberships during this time.
Anytime Fitness says it is granting pauses on billing for members that request it, which is a regular benefit of membership. Members can also Anytime Fitness locations outside of Yellowknife.
RBC has created a web page with information on relief for its clients who are affected by wildfires in NWT and BC, including short-term payment deferrals and fee reversals.