Manitoba

Red Cross closing Winnipeg convention centre shelter for Island Lake evacuees

One of two Winnipeg emergency shelters housing evacuees from fire-threatened First Nations in Manitoba will close Thursday, the Canadian Red Cross says.

Soccer complex shelter will remain open for evacuees from Wasagamack, Garden Hill and St. Theresa Point

Evacuees chat Tuesday outside the emergency shelter at the Leila Avenue soccer complex. That shelter will remain open for evacuees from the Island Lake area, but the Red Cross will shut a shelter at Winnipeg's RBC Convention Centre on Thursday. (CBC)

One of two Winnipeg emergency shelters housing evacuees from fire-threatened First Nations in Manitoba will close this week, the Canadian Red Cross announced Wednesday.

Effective Thursday, the organization will shut down the shelter at the RBC Convention Centre, said Red Cross spokesperson Jason Small.

The emergency shelter was established on Aug. 31, after thousands of evacuees from Wasagamack, Garden Hill and St. Theresa Point First Nations were flown to Winnipeg and Brandon as a wildfires approached the communities.

In total, around 4,200 people were forced from their homes in the three First Nations.

At the time, there weren't enough hotel rooms in Winnipeg to house all the evacuees. In the days following, more hotel rooms have become available in the city and evacuees have gone to stay with family or friends in Winnipeg, Small said.

A second shelter at the Winnipeg Soccer North indoor complex was established on Sept. 1 and will remain open, Small said. Evacuees who aren't staying with friends or family, or at hotels, will stay at the soccer complex.

"Last night, between the two shelters, there was less than 375 people who slept at the shelters and there was less than 125 at the convention centre, so we felt … that we could shut one of them down," Small said.

Small said the Red Cross chose to keep the soccer complex open as it is equipped with showers — unlike the convention centre — and is closer to shopping and a large park.

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