A fire at the Mackenzie Place Apartments (also known as the Hay River High-Rise) on March 15, 2019, resulted in extensive damage to the 11th floor and below and displaced approximately 150 residents. Since the building’s evacuation, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has been working with the Town of Hay River to support the displaced tenants.
To meet the tenants’ most immediate needs – food and shelter – the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority opened a reception centre on March 15. Throughout the week immediately following the fire, many residents visited the reception centre on a daily basis for meals. While the majority of tenants were able to find interim accommodations with family or friends, others were found temporary accommodations in hotels or the K’at’lodeeche First Nation Treatment Facility.
To ensure the tenants’ individual needs could be met as closely as possible, GNWT representatives met with each of the tenants during the week of March 18th and began identifying resources to meet those needs. While some residents were able to find their own medium to long-term housing arrangements, others requested assistance. The NWT Housing Corporation secured several housing units and is in the process of allocating them to families. The NWT Housing Corporation is also accelerating required repairs to several housing units within the Hay River Reserve.
The GNWT asks tenants to continue to update their assigned GNWT contact should they secure private housing. This will help the GNWT to continue to target efforts toward those in the need. There remains a need for interim housing solutions, and the GNWT is continuing to disseminate information on available private rentals and home sales as well as assessing other options for interim and longer-term housing needs. Any private interests with rooms or units for rent can contact the NWT Housing Corporation should they want their information distributed as part of these efforts.
Tenants experiencing financial difficulties are encouraged to meet with representatives from the Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE). ECE is also available to assist with security deposits for those applicants who both qualify for Income Assistance benefits in March and/or April and have found their own housing. The NWTHC’s Homelessness Assistance Fund (HAF) and Rent Supplement programs are also available.
Within a week of the fire, the Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) completed their fire investigation and began allowing residents limited access to retrieve essential personal items. On April 4, the OFM approved a temporary access plan that will allow tenants an opportunity to remove their remaining belongings from the building. Tenants should contact the owner of Mackenzie Place, Harry Satdeo, or his representative to access their units.
The owner of Mackenzie Place has indicated his intent to complete the repairs necessary to reopen units to the tenants. The OFM and other regulatory authorities will continue to work with the owner and his representatives throughout this process. It is not known at this time when the building will be reopened.
The GNWT would like to thank everyone involved in responding to this emergency for your tireless effort, support and care. We also thank the members of the public for your continued time and generous donations.
There remain opportunities for individuals and organizations to help. If you wish to help, please make your offer known to the tenants through the social media and bulletin boards dedicated to the response effort or contact the representative of the owner to advise of your willingness to assist. The Hay River Thrift Store is accepting all donations (with the exception of food) for those impacted. CKHR-FM 107.3 and Hay River’s St. Andrew’s Anglican Church have set up a GoFundMe page to assist Mackenzie Place evacuees displaced by the fire. You can donate at https://www.gofundme.com/mackenzieplacerelief.
Additional Information for Affected Residents:
Information for affected residents will continue to be made available at the reception desk at the Hay River Arena as well as on the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority Facebook Page.
Residents should also continue to reach out to their contact person(s) with ECE, Hay River HSSA or NWTHC with any questions. If they don’t have the answers, these contacts will work to get them as soon as possible.
For more information, media should contact:
Communications and Website Advisor
Municipal and Community Affairs
Government of the Northwest Territories
Phone: (867) 767-9162 ext. 21044