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Alberta adjusts as Yellowknife evacuees leave but others remain

A board directs evacuees toward extra supports at Calgary Airport. Aastha Sethi/Cabin Radio
A board directs evacuees toward extra supports at Calgary Airport. Aastha Sethi/Cabin Radio

Edmonton moved its evacuation centre and Calgary promised South Slave evacuees “will continue to be accommodated” as thousands of Yellowknifers left the province for home.

More broadly, an Alberta government spokesperson told Cabin Radio northern Alberta communities had not reported any “resource strains” as thousands of people drove through on their way back to the territorial capital.

Even so, some small towns were forced to prolong or extend their supports to cope with demand.

In High Level, for example – which has coped with a string of other communities’ evacuations this summer – local staff reopened the town’s evacuation centre late on Friday to help some 10 to 15 people who reached the town shortly before midnight and needed access to washrooms and snacks.

“The community seems very tired after seven evacuations,” NWT evacuee Helen Barrieau wrote at the time. “My heart goes out to the community members here who keep coming out and showing up to help us out.”



Evacuees gather outside High Level's evacuation centre on the night of September 8, 2023. Photo: Helen Barrieau
Evacuees gather outside High Level’s evacuation centre on the night of September 8, 2023. Photo: Helen Barrieau

“The Government of Alberta will continue to monitor the situation closely and we are prepared to mobilize contingency supports as needed,” a provincial spokesperson said on the same day.

In a Sunday press release, the City of Edmonton said its reception centre for evacuees will move from the Edmonton Expo Centre to the Clareview Community Recreation Centre at 3804 139 Ave NW.

That centre will be open from 9am till 7pm daily. Use parking lot C and head to Multi-Purpose Room 5 on entry to the building, evacuees are told.

The Expo Centre is closed to evacuees as of 7pm on Sunday.



The City of Edmonton said the changes “reflect the needs of Lower Slave evacuees as Yellowknife residents return home,” an apparent reference to people from the South Slave, a region of the NWT that includes Fort Smith, Hay River, the Kátł’odeeche First Nation and Enterprise, all of whose residents are currently displaced.

Access to health and Indigenous wellness services will continue for those evacuees, the City of Edmonton stated, as will free transit and access to recreation facilities.

In a statement primarily urging Yellowknife evacuees to get to the Radisson Hotel for flights home, the City of Calgary said South Slave evacuees “will continue to be accommodated as that area is still under an evacuation order.”

There is currently no date for most South Slave evacuees to return home. Hay River has released a re-entry plan but officials have said they expect to wait until early next week to provide any fixed dates for the return of essential workers and the general population.

The Kátł’odeeche First Nation has said essential workers will begin returning on Tuesday but has given no date for its general membership to return.

Fort Smith is expected to unveil a re-entry plan in the coming days. Officials stressed on Saturday that there is so far no confirmed date for Fort Smith residents to come home.