Northern Ontario communities hosting Kashechewan evacuees

Hundreds of people from Kashechewan have been flown out due to flooding concerns in the James Bay Coast community.

Annual population boost helps ‘economic health’ of host town

Last week, residents of Kashechewan started to be flown out of their community due to flooding concerns. (Jean-Loup Doudard/Radio-Canada)

Hundreds of people from Kashechewan have been flown out due to flooding concerns in the James Bay Coast community.

According to Emergency Management Ontario, a precautionary evacuation of the community began last week and will continue as needed.

People are being flown to Kapuskasing, Timmins, Cochrane and Thunder Bay.

The province says 447 have been taken to Kapuskasing, 252 are in Thunder Bay and 122 are in Timmins.

Guylain Baril is chief administrative officer of the Town of Kapuskasing. He says the residents from Kashechewan have been placed in hotels for accommodations.

Baril says at this point, the evacuation is precautionary, as the Albany River hasn't overflowed in Kashechewan yet. But he says officials anticipate it might.

'Nice motor for the community'

"We're able to plan a lot better," he said.

"We know when they're coming in. We can give the hotels a heads up."

Kapuskasing is no stranger to hosting evacuees, having done so for the past dozen years.

"It's mostly been Kashechewan coming to Kapuskasing," he explained.

"But we've had other evacuees from other parts of the province for forest fire reasons."

Baril says the community organizes family-friendly activities, including swimming, crafts and bowling.

He says the evacuations last usually between 10 days and a month, but says it's hard to anticipate how long people will be in the community.

"It depends on what happens with the flood," he said.

Baril says the annual increase of people in the community does help with the bottom line for businesses.

"It's a nice motor for the community, for the economic health of our community," he said.

"It helps our hotels … it helps them, it helps our catering and food services in town that prepare for this as well."

With files from Angela Gemmill