Yellowknife’s mayor has asked evacuees not to join a rumoured convoy supposedly plotting a run at the evacuated city, in spite of warnings that it’s closed.
On Wednesday, RCMP in the Northwest Territories said they had been tipped off that “up to 50 vehicles” were planning the lengthy, off-limits journey back to the city en masse, blowing through roadblocks along the way.
So far, Cabin Radio has seen no evidence beyond the RCMP press release to substantiate the existence of such a plot, which most evacuees have dismissed with a roll of the eyes.
Even so, Mayor Rebecca Alty took a moment in a Wednesday evening phone call to note her disapproval, just in case it’s a thing.
“I’m like, please don’t have a convoy up to Yellowknife. That’s not what we need right now,” she said.
Police have stated they will enforce the law if anyone tries that. Crossing a roadblock into an NWT community under an evacuation order can result in up to a year’s jail time or a fine of up to $5,000.
Yellowknife has been under an evacuation order since August 16. Most of its 20,000 residents evacuated to Alberta.
Any clandestine convoy back to the capital faces a route complicated by wildfires and smoke, making the highway through northern Alberta and across the border a difficult drive at best.
Lengthy closures took place throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, with pilot cars sometimes needed to guide vehicles through the smoke. Even in High Level, northern Alberta, drivers could barely see 30 feet ahead of their vehicles at times.
Government agencies expect to close Highway 1 in the southern NWT from Friday through to Sunday this week because of high winds and consequent extreme fire activity – a weather forecast that has led to Yellowknife’s re-entry plan, only slowly cranking to life, being paused indefinitely.
In the circumstances, the convoy might find natural forces take care of proceedings before the police can.
“Somebody did email me and say they were going to, like, storm the provincial capital – Edmonton, I guess – and then this convoy was going to drive up to Yellowknife,” the mayor said, recounting a particularly lively piece of correspondence from the weekend.
“But I haven’t heard anything since, and nobody else has heard anything,” Alty said.
“Generally, if there’s, you know, convoy discussion, I figure it would make the news of Cabin Radio for sure. Or at least some of my councillors who are in Edmonton and pretty tuned-in, with their ears to the ground.
“I’m not sure whether this will actually materialize. And the highway? I think of all the photos from the Hay River evacuation, and I would hate for folks to get themselves into a similar situation down there.”