GNWT to Establish Temporary Yellowknife Day Shelter under the Emergency Management Act

News Releases

Yellowknife — October 15, 2021

Shane Thompson, Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, announced today that he is taking action under the Emergency Management Act (EMA) to address the urgent need for a temporary day shelter in Yellowknife. The decision was made after several attempts to identify a suitable location to provide this critical service to the city’s vulnerable residents.


Under s. 14 of the EMA, the Minister has declared a state of local emergency in Yellowknife from October 19, 2021 to November 1, 2021. Using the powers available to him under the Act to acquire public or private property to alleviate the emergency, the Minister will acquire the former Yellowknife’s Northern Frontier Visitors Center site to establish a temporary day shelter. 


This plan has come together as a result of rapid collaboration between territorial and municipal government working in partnership with private industry to capitalize on the very recent availability of suitable infrastructure.  It is anticipated that this location will be open by the end of November 2021.  In the interim, the Yellowknife Arena will be reopened as a day shelter beginning on October 25, 2021.


The need for additional shelter space is a result of ongoing capacity limitations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the imminent return of winter weather creating an urgent need, and ongoing challenges in locating suitable space following exhaustive efforts by the Department of Health and Social Services, the decision will ensure that vulnerable Yellowknife residents have a place to seek shelter during the day.


The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) will operate the temporary day shelter at the new location so long as the Minister considers it necessary to maintain a state of local emergency.




“Declaring a State of Emergency is a necessary step to provide support to the health system until the emergency is resolved and the health and safety of the vulnerable population is no longer impacted by cold weather.”      

-Shane Thompson, Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs


“The GNWT is committed to providing sheltering services to residents in need, and this solution will enable us to do this despite the many challenges that we have faced in the face of the pandemic.”

-Julie Green, Minister of Health and Social Services


“Thank you to the private sector, GNWT and City staff for working so diligently and quickly to put this option into place.”

-Rebecca Alty, Mayor, City of Yellowknife



Quick Facts

  • This state of emergency applies to Yellowknife only, in recognition of the unique and extraordinary circumstances currently affecting the city’s vulnerable residents as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Under the Emergency Management Act, the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs may declare a state of emergency for a period of 14 days.
  • A state of emergency may be renewed, if the Minister determines that an emergency still exists.
  • The GNWT recently confirmed plans to establish a permanent Yellowknife day shelter in 2024.


Media inquiries

Cabinet Communications
Government of the Northwest Territories