With wildfires posing an imminent threat to people and property, the City of Yellowknife declared a state of local emergency during a special meeting on Monday, but the GNWT is not following suit.
“This is not an evacuation order or alert,” Mayor Rebecca Alty said. “This is serious, but remain calm, no need to panic. This is only to give the city some extra power to protect the city.”
The municipality, its employees, servants and agents are now empowered to perform acts and implement all procedures that are considered necessary to protect the city from wildfires. For example, the declaration would enable the city to order contractors to pull their equipment off of jobs to assist with efforts to stop fires from entering Yellowknife.
Earlier in the day, Environment and Climate Change Minister Shane Thompson said the GNWT doesn’t feel it’s necessary to declare a state of emergency because there’s adequate resources to combat the fires and such a declaration could cause panic.
Alty said this is the first time that the city has declared a state of local emergency in the 10 years she’s been involved with council.
The order remains in force for seven days, until midnight of Aug. 21, unless cancelled by the City of Yellowknife. The declaration was moved by deputy mayor Stacie Arden-Smith and seconded by councillor Steve Payne.