Edmonton closes Expo Centre evacuee registration due to high volumes – Edmonton


The Edmonton Expo Centre, which has been staged as a wildfire evacuee reception centre for the past week, has closed its registration due to high volumes of displaced people from the Northwest Territories fleeing south as wildfires took over the territory last week.

Twice the number of people displaced by the northern fires have come to Edmonton compared to Alberta visitors using the city’s emergency services earlier in the wildfire season when large parts of the province were covered in flames.

The centre doesn’t have the space for the sheer volume of people coming down from the north, according to the city, which has now shut down registration for new evacuees. With so many temporary visitors, Edmonton is full. The city says there are no more hotels available, a status that led to its deciding to close registration for new evacuees.

At the Expo Centre, the city currently has 300 cots set up with nearly 7,000 evacuees registered — 3,000 people are in 1,700 hotel rooms, said Michael Stege with the city on Sunday.

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“We’re constantly watching hotels and the Red Cross is looking at how they can accommodate people when that capacity opens back up,” he said.

Geoff Pothier and his family have been in Edmonton since Yellowknife was evacuated due to wildfires on Aug. 18. He says the support they’ve received since arriving has made the difficult situation easier.

“They’ve reached out and allowed us to do a lot of things that maybe normally we’d come here that we wouldn’t get a chance to do,” he said. The one issue the family has had, however, is with accommodations.

“One hotel and then we were able to stay there for a couple nights and then we got shifted and then we went to another hotel, stayed there for a night and we got into another hotel,” he explained.

Despite the inconvenience, Pothier and his family are happy to have a hotel to stay at for now, but are still hoping the stay isn’t a long one.

“Everybody’s in a position where now it’d be nice to get back home,” he said.

People who are not able to register at the Expo Centre are still able to register at a reception centre outside the city and stop by the Expo Centre for food, clothing and a temporary place to rest.

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The city will continue to provide support for those who are already registered.

— with files from Slav Kornik, Global News

Click to play video: 'Edmonton facilities and sporting event opening their doors to wildfire evacuees'

Edmonton facilities and sporting event opening their doors to wildfire evacuees

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