Tbnewswatch Local News
Saturday July 4 2015
3:00 AM EDT
2014-05-08 at 11:58

Ready for evacuees

Evacuees from Kasechewan First Nation were housed in Thunder Bay in 2013 when flooding stuck the Albany River.
Evacuees from Kasechewan First Nation were housed in Thunder Bay in 2013 when flooding stuck the Albany River.
By Leith Dunick and Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

City of Thunder Bay officials say they’re ready to host as many as 300 evacuees fleeing flooding in the James Bay area.

Mayor Keith Hobbs has signed an emergency declaration on Thursday to pave the way should the evacuation to Thunder Bay become necessary, similar to what’s been done in the past. The communities of Kashechewan and Fort Albany are in imminent danger.

"It's a pretty dire situation up there," Hobbs said.

The city’s emergency operations control group met early Thursday to discuss a plan of attack, noting the city has been working closely with Emergency Management Ontario over the past week as conditions worsened in several remote communities.

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue deputy Chief Dave Paxton said the city is prepared to host evacuees starting Friday.

"We are on standby waiting on an official request," he said.

Kashechewan First Nation has declared an emergency because of flooding on the Albany River and is expected to begin evacuating vulnerable populations as early as Thursday. Paxton said the river is moving at about 3,000 cubic feet per second. To put it in perspective, the Kaministiquia River is around 600.

"An ice jam there is pretty drastic and it changes within the hour," he said.

It's a year to the day that the city hosted evacuees from Kashechewan because of flooding. Hobbs said Thunder Bay is always willing to help out.

"It's a service that we like to provide to our Northern neighbours," he said.

But he and other city officials have spoken to the federal and provincial governments before about having a permanent facility in Thunder Bay when evacuees are forced out of their communities due to forest fires or flooding. If accommodations were needed Thursday, Hobbs said it would have been hard to find them as hotels were booked up throughout Thunder Bay.

"Those (talks) didn't go anywhere at the time but I think it's time to revisit that. Look at a permanent solution," he said.

Hobbs added that the cost of an evacuation is covered completely. The city actually gets a bit of a return due to administration.

Thunder Bay, along with other communities including Kapuskasing, Greenstone, Wawa, Fort Frances, Dryden and others, has been asked to serve as a host community.

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Watchful says:
I have a great idea, your new events centre can also fill in for the evacuation centre to be used yearly. That way Hobbs gets two birds with one stone
5/9/2014 11:19:17 PM
mercy mercy me says:
Reverse Eco-Tourism, a rapidly growing and self sustaining industry...Thunder Bay, escaping the elements? come for the shelter!
5/9/2014 6:04:28 PM
Dockboy says:
I guess building on the banks of the Albany river wasn't such a good idea. Maybe it's time to consider moving to higher ground.
5/9/2014 8:26:02 AM
deanc12 says:
We can find money to help others around the world but we can't seem to help our own. When a Canadian native human family is in trouble it's his/her fault. Please help, we are all in this mess together.
5/8/2014 10:27:22 PM
unheard says:
Welcome to all
5/8/2014 6:16:57 PM
reese says:
Living on native land occupied by europeans and displacing them to swamp land is no different than what Russia is doing in the Ukraine
5/8/2014 5:28:06 PM
chezhank says:
Seems there are plans to host evacuees in other host communities!


henry wojak
mayor in waiting
5/8/2014 5:04:44 PM
jamisuplate says:
these are children, mothers and grandmothers who are being forced from their homes and need help. We are more than willing to send money over to Nigeria or Thailand but we make comments like this on our own Indigenous people? Please join the rest of humanity and preach peace, love and understanding.
5/8/2014 1:52:58 PM
tothecloud says:
Okay, I don't want to trigger a racial debate or anything, but its almost every year now Kashechewan First Nation seems to be flooding and in need of evacuation. Common sense would suggest its time to maybe think about relocating the town permanently. Who is "footing the bill" for this seemingly yearly evacuation process?
5/8/2014 12:57:13 PM
mikevirtanen1961 says:
They were forcibly relocated to their current location on the flood plain in 1957 by the federal government. They asked in 2006 for help moving upriver to higher ground, but the federal government would only provide funds to shore up dykes where they are.
5/8/2014 2:45:24 PM
westfort resident says:
The federal government has yet to support relocation despite support from Ontario Aboriginal Affairs; it's common sense to move the communities to higher ground. The feds call the shots and lack common sense.

Ottawa nixes relocation for flood-prone Kashechewan:

Kashechewan relocation given provincial support

Bid to move Kashechewan $500M

Flood-plagued First Nations should be moved to higher ground, Ontario MPP says
5/8/2014 4:53:02 PM
westfort resident says:
A proposed solution such as relocating flood-prone communities to Timmins was rejected by the Kashechewan band.

Kashechewan rejects Timmins move
"A list of recommendations on how to improve the lives of the 1,500 Aboriginal residents of Kashechewan landed on the desk of Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice late Wednesday evening...If they resolve they want to head south to the relatively balmy climes of Timmins, and Prentice agrees to fund the move, it will signal a quiet revolution in Aboriginal policy in this country. Prentice's blessing would be official recognition that the reserve system in remote locations is a failed experiment and unsustainable in the long term."


Four years later nothing has changed.
5/8/2014 5:29:32 PM
tothecloud says:
Of course the Feds won't support it, maybe if there was oils sands near Kashechewan? Clearly there is a trend that probably due to climate change Kashechewan is going to be flooded more years than not. These idiots in Ottawa need to realize that moving the town upriver would be the cheaper solution in the long term. Curious to know how much it costs to evacuate these communities every year. Planes, hotels, food, not cheap!
5/8/2014 6:55:58 PM
deanc12 says:
Lets make Calgary relocate. Floods are bound to happen there again on the Bow. Everybody makes choices where they like to live, others have no choice. Calgary was bailed out, so why when a remote community is in need we blame them for where they live. Calgary flood cost us tax payers more than helping a few hundred families.
5/8/2014 10:11:33 PM
ibrando says:
Hit the road, and take your hospitality crusade with you.
5/8/2014 12:56:32 PM
DougMyers says:
Are you suggesting that we say no?

You do realize that the provincial and federal governments foot the bill for this and not the city don't you?

I am embarrassed that you are a citizen of this city.

At the very least this is great for the local economy.
5/8/2014 1:56:15 PM
ibrando says:
Doug, I have often felt the same about you, sir. Alot of assumptions in your comment.
5/8/2014 2:19:31 PM
realisticone says:
The provincial and federal gov't use our tax dollars. We can't continue paying for these emergencies. They need to change locations once and for all.
5/9/2014 6:22:32 AM
spooner19 says:
Comments like this just show how much of a hick town this really is. It's embarrassing to hear idiotic comments like this from people in Thunder Bay. I guess you would rather have a mayor that will say sorry but you are not welcome here go elsewhere?
5/8/2014 10:22:22 PM
wasaya says:
I totally agree spooner. Some of the commentary on here makes my skin crawl.
5/9/2014 6:54:35 AM
TBDR says:
yep... it reeks of racism too. Kudos to the city for helping our neighbours.
5/9/2014 11:27:26 AM
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