The residents of Bashaw stand ready to help those affected by the forest fires in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
Shelley Boileau, the manager of the Bashaw Retreat put out a post on a Facebook evacuation group that the retreat centre is available for those in need.
According to Boileau, after her initial offer of support many others in the community have reached out as well, ready to support the evacuees.
There’s one problem; as the retreat centre is not on an approved government list, it won’t pay for evacuees to stay there nor add the facility to the list of available accommodations for evacuees to access.
“It’s just crazy,” said Boileau.
“People are begging for a place to stay … there’s not enough facilities.”
Boileau says that she has reached out to the province adding the retreat centre as an evacuation centre; she says the government email responded with an email thanking her for the offer, and that it was being reviewed.
Meanwhile, Boileau says that she has spoken with evacuees on the phone and via Facebook Messenger who have given up after spending hours in line at the Edmonton reception centre without much in the way of forward movement.
“We just need someone to bring this forward,” said Boileau.
“We’re here to help.”
Boileau also noted that the reception centres are offering hotel vouchers for evacuees who get them, “but they are forgetting about the rest of us.”
“I have a whole community on hold,” said Boileau, noting that community members are ready to help with money, gift cards, groceries, or clothes.
According to Boileau, the owner of the Alix hotel messaged her as well but finds themselves in the same situation caught up in government red tape.
Boileau says that the communities surrounding the evacuation centres in Edmonton, Red Deer, and Calgary stand ready to help, they just need the opportunity to do so.
The Bashaw Retreat Centre is equipped with 20 rooms, 10 have two beds and 10 have one bed, which the centre intends to put to use.
In an update on Aug. 19, Boileau says she spoke to the co-owner of the facility, James Carpenter, who told her to waive the fees for those in need and worry about getting reimbursed from the province later when, and if, the facility ever makes it onto an approved list.
According to Boileau, Carpenter told her that helping out the evacuees is “the right thing to do.”
Evacuees wishing to get out of the city and stay in Bashaw can contact the centre, or Boileau, via Facebook.