Northwest Territories insists hotel rooms in Yellowknife are available for evacuees

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The Government of the Northwest Territories says there are still hotel rooms in Yellowknife available for flood-affected evacuees who have not yet found temporary accommodation.

For days online, evacuees or their acquaintances described situations in which people could not find hotel rooms or said they had been asked to leave due to other reservations.

Late Saturday night, the Government of the Northwest Territories said, “Some have suggested that hotel rooms are not available in Yellowknife. It’s not true.

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“Rooms are available, as well as significant additional capacity at the Yellowknife multiplex. Territorial staff help people connect to hotels if they wish to access them.

Even so, in the same update, the territory provided a list of available accommodations that suggested finding a hotel room might take some effort.

Listing nine accommodation providers in Yellowknife, the GNWT said six were full for at least part of the coming week (with some of those bookings being evacuees) and two could not be reached. One, the Quality Inn, said it has significant availability.

A GNWT breakdown of housing availability in Yellowknife released late May 14, 2022.

“Additional spaces are also available free of charge for those wishing to camp in the North Slave or South Slave territorial campgrounds,” the territory said.

Over the past couple of days, some South Slave residents reporting their friends’ difficulties finding rooms have blamed events like the Prince of Wales’ upcoming visit or an NWT Literacy Council training session to be held in Yellowknife this week. next.

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Prince Charles and Camilla are expected in Yellowknife for a less than one-day visit on Thursday, May 19. Neither Charles nor Camilla stay overnight, although these tours usually involve an advanced group which may require accommodation. The number of rooms used could not immediately be confirmed, nor the dates of these bookings, if any.

The NWT Literacy Council said it had not received any contact from the hotel used for its training course which runs Monday through Wednesday this week.

“We apologize to everyone who was told they had to leave the hotel on our behalf,” Literacy Council spokeswoman Katie Johnson told Cabin Radio by phone Sunday morning.

Johnson said the council was using 10 rooms, some of which were already occupied by attendees from smaller communities by the time a full evacuation was ordered in Hay River and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation.

She said the council understood from the GNWT over the past week that hotel rooms and other accommodations for evacuees remained available.

“Based on that, we decided to move forward with our 10 rooms,” Johnson said.

“If we had been contacted to let us know that there was a real need, we certainly could have considered all the options. As far as we know, even at the end of the day on Friday, it was not a concern that we had to change things.

Referring to social media posts that she said misrepresented the council’s position, Johnson said no representative of the NWT Literacy Council had made a statement online about it.

“Anything that may seem to come from the literacy council is not about us,” she said. “It would only come from our official page.”

Yellowknife was facing a housing shortage even before last week’s flooding and the arrival of hundreds of evacuees.

Flooding in Hay River and Kátł’odeeche First Nation is among the worst on record and a return home seems unlikely for many families in the short term. Last week, Yellowknife’s city manager acknowledged that the city should find medium-term solutions for some evacuees.

As of Friday afternoon, Yellowknife was home to 510 evacuees — 200 at the multiplex, which has been turned into an evacuation center with beds and food, and 300 with friends or family or hotels.

Caitrin Pilkington and Megan Miskiman contributed reporting.

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