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YK drive home: Expect more police and Big River traffic controls

Big River gas station in Fort Providence. Photo: Brad Collicott

RCMP say people driving home to Yellowknife this week can expect “an increased police presence” in northern Alberta and along the NWT highways leading north.

Wednesday is the day Yellowknife’s general population is expected to start returning home after an evacuation that will have lasted three weeks by then. A wildfire west of the city is considered to have died down sufficiently to allow some 20,000 people to come back.

Essential workers are being asked to arrive back in the city on Monday or Tuesday, and will be allowed through a checkpoint outside Behchokǫ̀ – if their name is on the list.

More: Read our full return-to-Yellowknife Q&A

That checkpoint fully lifts at noon on Wednesday, unless conditions deteriorate, city officials have said.



“We understand that everyone is eager to return home, but we want everyone to make it home safely,” police stated on Sunday morning.

“RCMP officers will be enforcing speed limits and adherence to the extra traffic controls planned at the Deh Cho Bridge and near Big River Service Centre.”

When you arrive in Fort Providence, expect officials to guide you into the correct lane based on your needs.

There are three ways to fuel up in Fort Providence: Big River, the Northern Store (which doesn’t have diesel), or the Snowshoe Inn Petro-Pass card lock. You are likely to be directed to one of those or, if you do not require gas, you will be directed around any line so you can continue your journey.

“Officers will also be stopping to check on stranded motorists to connect them with assistance,” police stated.

“The conditions you experienced on the way out – including reduced speeds due to traffic congestion, long line ups at gas stations, smoke and others – may also be experienced on your return trip,” RCMP added.