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North Battleford welcoming wildfire evacuees

North Battleford city council gets update on northern evacuation efforts within the community, with Patuanak and English River residents located in the city
Don Ross Centre
The Don Ross Centre is the centre of activity this week, as Northern wildfire evacuees will be utilizing the facility to receive meals.

NORTH BATTLEFORD - City Council in North Battleford got an update at their meeting Tuesday on the wildfire evacuation efforts to house people in their city. 

Residents of northern communities including Patuanak and English River have been relocated to North Battleford for the time being as efforts continue to battle wildfires close to those communities.

“We have a lot of evacuees in the city, we are doing a lot of support,” said Mayor David Gillan, who told council he was scheduled for a meeting with the Chief of English River First Nation the next day.

SPSA had reported in its regular update Tuesday that support was being provided in both Lloydminister and North Battleford on behalf of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council. Of all the evacuees in North Battleford a total of 245 were from Patuanak.

At council Monday, City Manager Randy Patrick said about 500 people started arriving on Friday, and they had been working with Meadow Lake Tribal Council, who have set up an EOC and taken responsibility for the evacuees.

Patrick reported that the city has provided some help as required and the Northland Power Curling Centre was made available on the weekend as a facility to provide meals to the evacuees through Monday. The evacuees are being provided three meals a day.

Starting Tuesday the meals moved over to the Don Ross Centre due to the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations meetings happening this week at the Northland Power Curling Centre.

As well, there have been efforts to keep families entertained with activities. 

“Whatever we’ve been asked for, we’ve been able to help,” said Patrick. 

Patrick didn’t have a timeline available for when the evacuees could go back home. It could be any time “between a week and six weeks depending on smoke and rain and all sorts of things. It might be a fairly long stay.”

Patrick added that however they were needed, the city would try and respond and keep council and the public informed.

Mayor Gillan also noted Councillor Bill Ironstand wasn’t at that night’s council meeting because he was working with the evacuation response on behalf of Meadow Lake Tribal Council, as most of the evacuees were from that tribal council.

As for what was happening at Don Ross Centre, Gillan said there were “tremendous things going on.” He said the Blend restaurant was doing full-time catering there and called it “quite a project, an operation.”

Gillan thanked the public for “being so hospitable to the guests in our city and doing what we can and the administration doing what we can as well within our means to support.”