The date September 11 is causing a bunch of confusion for Northwest Territories evacuees.
The NWT government just extended its state of emergency until at least September 11 and, from what we can tell, that was the cue for some media outside the territory to declare that would be when people could go home.
That’s not true.
What’s actually happening is the GNWT has to follow the state of emergency rules, which dictate that you either renew or drop the state of emergency every two weeks. On August 29, the GNWT renewed it until the end of September 11. On September 11, the chances are high that the GNWT will renew it again until September 25 unless the crisis is over, and so on.
The important part is: the state of emergency does not decide what happens to evacuation orders.
Evacuation orders are separate. Normally issued by municipalities, and occasionally by the territorial government, evacuation orders don’t need a state of emergency to happen, and a state of emergency does not automatically trigger any evacuation orders.
Evacuation orders can come and go while a state of emergency carries on, and we had plenty of evacuations earlier this summer without ever coming near to a territorial state of emergency.
In other words: the dates for those two things are totally separate.
As of Thursday, August 31, there is no confirmed date for residents to return to Yellowknife and no date for any other evacuated NWT communities, either.
(The only exception to this is a few healthcare workers heading back to Stanton Territorial Hospital and related services. Those people are being contacted directly by their employer.)
In theory, communities could let residents return before September 11 if conditions become hugely favourable. But it’s equally as likely that the return date for some NWT residents will be after September 11.
When things change – and it seems possible that Yellowknife will make an announcement next week about a return date – we’ll let you know on our homepage.