Yellowknife state of emergency, a fix for shelter dilemma, is extended

The NWT government is extending a state of emergency introduced in Yellowknife to fast-track the opening of a temporary day shelter in the city.

The territory first declared a localized emergency in the city on November 6, which gave municipal and community affairs minister Paulie Chinna the power to turn the downtown Mine Rescue Building into a shelter.

In doing so, Chinna overruled an earlier Yellowknife City Council decision to reject the GNWT’s bid to use the same building.


Despite that, Chinna’s actions were welcome by the city. Mayor Rebecca Alty said alternatives had been exhausted and using territorial emergency powers meant dodging municipal bylaws that prevented councillors revisiting their decision in time for winter.

The shelter opened within three days of the emergency being declared.

However, keeping it open requires continual extension of the state of emergency – which must, by law, be renewed every two weeks or else it lapses – until the shelter is no longer required.

The territorial government says the Covid-19 pandemic has reduced capacity elsewhere, making an additional, temporary shelter necessary.

“This state of emergency will be extended for as long as it is required,” the territory said in a short notice confirming the extension on Thursday.


The extension will last until December 4.

Yellowknife’s state of emergency is separate to the broader, territory-wide public health emergency that gives Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola a broader range of powers to restrict travel and enforce isolation.

The public health emergency, too, must be extended every two weeks until it is no longer required by the government.