Yellowknife’s Salvation Army evacuated people on Sunday morning after a pipe burst in bitterly cold conditions and flooded the building.
The Franklin Avenue building houses an overnight shelter for people experiencing homelessness, alongside other programs that help the city’s most vulnerable.
Executive director Jason Brinson told Cabin Radio he was not yet sure what had caused the pipe to burst, but water had flooded all floors of the building.
People who use the Salvation Army’s addictions and mental health programs had to be evacuated and are now safe and warm at a different location, Brinson said.
Nobody using the overnight shelter on Saturday night into Sunday morning was affected. However, the Salvation Army is now working to find a safe place for people to sleep on Sunday night.
Temperatures well below -30C are expected to persist in Yellowknife until at least Tuesday. On Sunday morning, the local temperature was -45C with a wind chill index of -57C.
According to Brinson, the organization has enacted its emergency plan and is working with the City of Yellowknife and NWT government to find a temporary location for the overnight shelter.
Up till now, the Salvation Army has been providing shelter for up to 40 people a night under Covid-19 restrictions. Brinson said another location is needed that can handle similar numbers.
“We have some options for where people can go, but it’s a matter of volume,” he said. “Given the potential 40 occupancy of our shelter, where do those 40 people go now?
“We have reached out to our community partners and we are confident something will be put in place to accommodate everybody who’s going to be affected.”