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10% of destroyed homes rebuilt: wildfire recovery update

Last Updated Nov 15, 2017 at 6:04 am MST

PHOTO. Rebuild construction under way in Wood Buffalo. Sarah Anderson/REPORTER

An update on wildfire recovery was given at the council meeting on Tuesday night from Fire Chief Jody Butz, Recovery Task Force Operations Manager, Erin O’Neill and Planning and Development Director, Jamie Doyle.

In terms of development, as of Nov. 3, 2017, almost 50 per cent of the 2589 dwelling units destroyed by the 2016 wildfire have poured or are preparing to pour foundations. More than 33 per cent are nearly rebuilt and almost 10 per cent are completely rebuilt and more than 70 per cent of the primary structures destroyed have received their building permits.

“The rebuild continues and many residents will be able to move into their new homes faster because of the incredible work being done in the region,” said Mayor Don Scott. “We are grateful for the hard work of everyone helping to rebuild the region in a safe, efficient and compliant manner, and remain committed to addressing KPMG’s 14 recommendations.”

Butz reviewed the lessons learned from the wildlife outlined in the KPMG report on the wildfire.  Regional Emergency Services identified 67 action items to address KPMG’s recommendations and prioritized disaster risk management, operationalizing the Regional Emergency Operations Centre (REOC) and completing the Community Resiliency Strategy as primary action areas to be addressed.

“We expect the Community Resiliency Strategy and Municipal Emergency Management Plan to be completed in 2018, with the remaining action items being implemented over the coming years,” said Fire Chief Jody Butz.

“We are committed to the long-term effort required to address KPMG’s recommendations in full, with a focus on preparedness.  This message of preparedness is resonating throughout the organization and we’re seeing that through increased participation in emergency management training.” 

The Recovery Task Force will remain intact until the end of 2018 and see ongoing projects complete such as wildfire mitigation, firebreak rehabilitation and trail restoration and the improvement of municipal infrastructure such as repairing roads, sidewalks and right-of-ways in wildfire-affected neighbourhoods.

Erin O’Neill highlighted that safety remains the top priority through the rebuild and residents are encouraged to report damaged infrastructure and report any concerning matters online to PULSE or contact them at 780-743-7000.