Coun­cil­lor in P.A. push­ing evac­uee fa­cil­i­ties plan

Regina Leader-Post - - CITY + REGION - MOR­GAN MODJESKI mmod­jeski@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/Mor­ganM_SP

A Prince Al­bert city coun­cil­lor says while his mo­tion to have per­ma­nent in­fra­struc­ture in place to sup­port north­ern evac­uees was de­feated at a re­cent coun­cil meet­ing, it’s not dead.

This year, more than 2,000 peo­ple were evac­u­ated from north­ern com­mu­ni­ties as a re­sult of wild­fires in the prov­ince. Evac­uees were dis­trib­uted across sev­eral mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, in­clud­ing Prince Al­bert.

In mid-Septem­ber, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials started ask­ing evac­uees in Prince Al­bert to re­lo­cate to Saska­toon, as a large con­cen­tra­tion in the area was putting stress on every­thing from Prince Al­bert’s health sys­tem to area ho­tels.

In his mo­tion, Ward 3 Coun. Evert Botha noted wild­fires are hap­pen­ing in Saskatchewan an­nu­ally and changes in weather pat­terns due to cli­mate change caus­ing flash flood­ing “will con­tinue to dis­place com­mu­ni­ties, cre­at­ing more waves of evac­uees in years to come.”

The mo­tion sug­gested the Red Cross man­age the fa­cil­i­ties, but Botha said any or­ga­ni­za­tion pro­vid­ing emer­gency re­sponse in the area would be wel­come to use the fa­cil­i­ties. He said Prince Al­bert is a “front­line” com­mu­nity when it comes to sup­port­ing evac­uees from Saskatchewan’s north, Man­i­toba, Al­berta and North­west Ter­ri­to­ries.

Botha said al­though the mo­tion was de­feated, he plans to con­tinue his push for per­ma­nent fa­cil­i­ties, be­cause it would re­duce strain on the com­mu­nity and im­prove the ex­pe­ri­ence for evac­uees.

He said a per­ma­nent fa­cil­ity would pro­vide evac­uees with “a place where they can be com­fort­able, where they can re­group and be to­gether as a fam­ily unit.”

Ward 7 Coun. Dennis Nowosel­sky said he voted against the mo­tion be­cause he feels Prince Al­bert has more press­ing is­sues to deal with, like re­place­ment of the city’s wa­ter­lines.

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