Planning for Kashechewan residents to return home could start this week
Citizens flown out of the community in April due to flooding concerns
Residents who had to leave Kashechewan First Nation due to flooding concerns may start to return home soon.
On April 15, 2,500 people were flown out of the James Bay community. The annual evacuation happens each year due to flooding concerns from the nearby Albany River.
Residents were taken to a number of communities, including Timmins, Kapuskasing, Cochrane and Thunder Bay.
Guylain Baril, the CAO of the City of Kapuskasing, says the Albany River has peaked.
"That particular situation has improved," he said. "The residents will soon be able to go back home."
Baril says before final arrangements can be made, officials need to finish tests where a backflow in the sewage system happened in Kashechewan just before the evacuation happened.
"Before they go back, they were going to sample the soil around that leakage point and determine whether it's safe to go back or not," he said.
Baril says people staying in Timmins will go back home first, followed by those in Cochrane and then Kapuskasing.
"Typically, Kapuskasing has been the first community to receive evacuees and the last community to send evacuees back home," he said.
He says the people sent to Kapuskasing typically have health or mobility issues which is why they are moved first.
A decision on when residents could start heading back is expected to be made by Friday, according to Chief Leo Friday.
Last week, an agreement was signed between the First Nation and the federal and provincial governments to move the entire community within eight to ten years. However, Chief Friday also said he fears the move won't happen as he's signed two similar agreements in the past.
With files from Colin Cote-Paulette