A roadblock on Highway 3 on the evening of July 25, 2023. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
RCMP in the NWT say officers have now joined Department of Infrastructure staff at checkpoints near Enterprise and Yellowknife.
The moves comes after the NWT government raised the threat of prosecution for people trying to head home to places like Yellowknife, Hay River and Fort Smith before wildfire-related evacuation orders are lifted.
Residents of Fort Smith and Hay River have been out of their homes for nearly two weeks (in Hay River’s case, this is the third evacuation in a little over 12 months). Yellowknifers were ordered to leave between Wednesday and Friday last week.
Various levels of government have stated the fires outside those communities remain a threat and there is so far no proposed return date.
“RCMP officers are now posted to the Department of Infrastructure checkpoints near Enterprise and Yellowknife. The RCMP officers will be assisting in maintaining the checkpoints and keeping the peace,” police stated on Friday morning.
Residents trying to cross a checkpoint who are not essential workers have been told they could face up to a year in jail or be fined up to $5,000, though RCMP have stressed they are trying to avoid actually pursuing any such action.
Meanwhile, RCMP in Yellowknife said there were “low call volumes” overnight and no confirmed reports of break-and-enters. No calls were reported in Hay River. Police couldn’t get into Fort Smith on Thursday because of smoke.