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Demolition orders being issued for homes destroyed in the fire

Last Updated Jul 27, 2016 at 4:18 pm MDT

Nicole Baggio. STAFF.

To speed up the demolition process for homes damaged beyond repair in the wildfire the municipality is issuing Orders to Remedy Dangers and Unsightly Property to all 2,000 homes destroyed in the fire.

The owners of those homes will receive the orders both by mail and through an online database. The Minister of Municipal Affairs issued a “Ministerial Order” allowing the Municipality to serve Orders by way of a Notice posted on the Municipal website.

If you think the Orders will affect you please check the database.

The Orders are issued to the owners of every structure irreparably damaged or destroyed by the May 2016 wildfire.

The owners of those properties will be responsible for the following:

  1.  The resident will be asked to immediately secure their property and any damaged or destroyed structures, to prevent access by unauthorized personnel.
  2. The resident will need to remove and dispose of all debris, ash, contaminated soil and other hazards by September 30, 2016.
  3. The resident will need to make a decision about removing or covering their foundation by October 31, 2016. Residents have two options to choose from, before the October 31, 2016, deadline:
    a. Remove or dispose of the foundation, then backfill the resulting hole and level the land
    b. Leave the foundation in place and take other steps to cover the hole so that it is not a hazard. Any steps taken by the resident need to be approved by a municipal Safety Codes Officer. The site must also be secured on all sides with a fence that is allowed under the Alberta Building Code.
  4. If the resident chooses to leave their foundation in place, then no later than June 30, 2017 they need to:
    a. Remove and dispose of the foundation of the structure
    b. Within 30 days of removal and disposal of the foundation, either backfill the hole or pour a new foundation. [NOTE: where a new foundation is poured, a permit from the Municipality must first be applied for and obtained.]


The RMWB said most foundations will not be salvageable and will likely be removed in the fall.

Residents will need demolition permits to do that work. Right now there are about 300-400 permits in the queue and they’re taking at minimum 48 hours for approval.  The RMWB has built a helpful permit information package to help you navigate the at-times difficult process. Homeowners have a choice for demolition and debris removal: you can hire your own contractor or use SPECS, the company hired to manage the bulk of the work for insured properties, qualified homeowners can choose to do the work themselves.

If you don’t have insurance or cannot meet the deadline the RMWB will step in and do the work for you but the costs will likely be billed back to you on your property taxes. The Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee is currently looking at what to do about the costs associated with the homes that are uninsured. They may choose to assume the costs, have them recuperated by the Disaster Recovery Fund with the province or bill them to the tax payer. If they choose the to bill the tax payer they then would follow the normal process for unpaid and late taxes if the homeowner could not pay the amounts.

The RMWB does not have a complete list of people without insurance.

If you lost your home in the fire and do not have insurance you’re asked to contact the PULSE Line at 780-743-7000.

Uninsured homeowners also have the option to hire SPECS if they can prove they can make the payment in full.

The RMWB estimates that of the properties destroyed in the fire 300 were uninsured.

If a homeowner fails to meet the September 30 deadline the RMWB has the option to hire a contractor to do the work and then has the option to add any costs incurred to the property owners’ tax bill.

If it becomes clear that the debris removal deadline of September 30 is not feasible overall, the RMWB can look at extending the deadline as need be. The date would be chosen in conjunction and discussion with the Insurance Bureau of Canada and other stakeholders.

One development permit has been issued to rebuild a home in Saprae Creek.