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Emergency Plan and Preparedness


Power Outage Information


Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness Week is a national awareness initiative every year, sponsored by Public Safety Canada and provincial and territorial emergency management organzations,  that takes place during the first week of May.  This initiative encourages Canadians to take three simple steps to become better prepared to face a range of emergencies:

  • Know the risks
  • Make a plan
  • Get an emergency kit

By taking an active role in your community, you are helping to build a culture of preparedness in Canada.  For more information visit:


Know the Risks 


Make a Plan

Get a Kit

 Emergency Measures Plan

The City of Yellowknife has an Emergency Measures Plan that coordinates its response to any major emergency.  The City's role is different depending on the type of emergency.  In many cases, the City will broadcast and relay important information to the public through available communication channels.  In other cases, the City will lead a response planning team from the Emergency Operations Centre, whose responsibility is to:

  • Assist emergency personnel to respond quickly to potential disasters such as wildfires, major storms, chemical spills, plane crashes, or power outages
  • Provide a central leadership group to decide how best to use available resources and, if necessary, resources from the Territorial and/or Federal Governments
  • Provide guidelines for recovery after an emergency
What is an Emergency?
  • An emergency is defined as an unexpected or dangerous situation that requires a quick response.  Specific examples include wildfires, major storms, chemical spills, plane crashes or, most common in Yellowknife, long power outages in extremely cold weather
  • Nobody wants to be invlolved in an emergency situation, but it's important to be prepared and ready just in case it occurs
  • In the event of an emergency, by following the instructions of emergency personnel and being as self-sufficient as you can, you will help emergency responders assist other neighbourhoods or people that may require priority assistance
Emergency Preparedness
  • In an emergency, be prepared to care for yourself and your family while emergency response teams initiate planning and actions
  • National guidelines recommend creating emergency kits with 3 to 7 days of food and water for all family members. This may also include special items for children, seniors and pets
  • You can purchase pre-made kits or create your own based on your family's needs
  • Store emergency kits, along with a battery operated flashlight and other needed items, in an easy-to-find place in your home
  • Create a personal emergency plan, which might include what you'll do if your phone doesn't work and you are not able to reach your family members, or what to do if you are unable to travel to a particular part of town
  • You can find more information about what to include in a kit, how to draw up a plan and other tips at the Government of Canada's Emergency Preparedness website
Emergency Planning for Winter Power Outages

There are a few simple steps that you can take to ensure that you, your family, and your colleagues are prepared for a winter power outage.  Visit the following links for details:

Emergencies: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the primary risks for the City of Yellowknife?

The primary risk for the City of Yellowknife is a long power outage in -30 C weather or colder.  Other risks include forest fires, fuel spills, explosions, or severe accidents like an airline crash

When and how is the City's Emergency Plan activated?
  • In the case of an extended power outage (4 hours or more in cold weather) the Emergency Plan will be activated by the Senior Administrative Officer, the Mayor or their alternates
  • The City may also activate portions of the plan in the event that the City becomes a reception centre for other northern communities forced to evacuate due to an emergency

Once the City declares a state of local emergency, it provides the City with additional powers under the Civil Emergency Measures Act. The City can then seek any assistance from businesses or use their personnel or equipment to deal with the emergency within our community boundaries.  The City includes GNWT authorities within our Emergency Plan to ensure proper communications with those agencies that may provide further assistance.

If the City depletes our resources and requests further assistance from the GNWT, the GNWT will enact their emergency operation centre (which may have already been activated in stand-by capacity) and/or provide any further assistance as required by the local authority.

Communications between agencies is integral to any emergency plan working effectively.  It is similar to discussing your plan with family members on where to meet in an emergency or who to contact for a family emergency, just a slightly larger scale.

How does the City declare a state of emergency?
  • Also see, When and How is the City's Emergency Plan activated?
  • To declare a state of local emergency, the Mayor and Senior Administrative Officer, in consultation with other agencies may declare a state of local emergency, in accordance with the Civil Emergency Measures Act, section 14(1)
Who tells the public there is an emergency?
  • In an emergency, the City will communicate through available communication tools such as local media, the City's social media sites (Facebook & Twitter) and website
  • When an emergency affects a specific neighbourhood or area of the city, the City may also go door-to-door with its partners, such as the RCMP
Who is the contact and spokesperson for the public?
  • During a power outage at extreme temperatures, information is provided by the power supplier, Northland Utilities or the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, that operates the power grid
  • The Mayor or Senior Administrative Officer will inform and update the public to the status of emergency situations on behalf of the City; the City may have multiple spokespeople depending on how long the emergency lasts or if there are multiple emergency locations
  • For a health related emergency, either the Chief Medical Health Officer or another representative from the Territorial Government's Department of Health and Social Services will be the designated spokesperson.  In this case, the City and other government departments will provide assistance
Will the City let people know if there is NOT an emergency?
  • As every situation is unique, the City will attempt to say whether something is an emergency or not
  • Examples of an emergency response which do not trigger a State of Emergency being declared include a fire response, a spill or hazardous materials scene, or the RCMP dealing with a specific situation.  In these cases, the City will share information, when possible, using communication tools to help create awareness
Are there emergency shelters available?
  • Emergency Reception Centres, powered by backup generators, are located within the city
  • The use of these reception centres will vary depending on the type and location of the emergency. When necessary the public will be notified which reception centre is being activated for emergency use
Would the City evacuate due to an emergency?

The City of Yellowknife will utilize a 'stay-in-place' evacuation in the event of an emergency, whether power outage in the winter or forest fires in the summer. In the winter months, a power outage at extreme temperatures may require the City to temporarily evacuate people to buildings with back-up power generation for warmth and security. In the summer, the City has evaluated the risk of attempting any mass evacuation with information from the Slave Lake fire (2010). The City continues to evaluate evacuation options as more information becomes available, annually. During the 2014 and 2015 forest fire seasons in the Northwest Territories the highway to southern Canada was often closed due to wildland fires. Yellowknife is 300km to the community of Fort Providence and 440km to Enterprise, fuel supplies at both locations could not handle the amount of potential evacuation traffic and long stretches of highway may not be safe for travel in the event of mechanical failures or fuel.

Therefore, the City would evacuate specific neighbourhoods affected by the emergency to other sections of the city (City facilities, school gymnasium) so that emergency crews can deal with the emergency at hand in specific locations in Yellowknife. The City works closely with other orders of government (Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) or Environment and Natural Resources (ENR)) and the RCMP as well as private companies or non-profit groups to effectively manage emergencies that could affect the daily operations of our residents.

For additional information on a "stay-in-place" evacuation we've included a short interviewthat was aired on CBC radio with the Director of Public Safety, Dennis Marchiori

What about air-lifts, or flying people south?
The City does not have the human resources or ability to coordinate airlifts.  Once a state of local emergency is declared, the City will work with our partner organizations and in consultation with any applicable GNWT staff, to protect the City and our residents.  If the City became depleted of resources, or our human resources could no longer work through our emergency situation, we would request the assistance of the GNWT which may consider the use of airlifts only in the most dire of circumstances.  The nearest community that could accommodate up to 20,000 residents would the City of Edmonton or the City of Calgary (Communities are contacted prior to any reception centre request).
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