The Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee (WBRC) met on Wednesday, April 5 at 6:00 p.m. in the city council chambers of Jubliee Plaza as the community prepares for another busy rebuild season.
The Recovery Task Force (RTF) had a huge role in the meeting and made presentations and recommendations to the WBRC on preparations for the rebuild.
The costs of demolition and protective fencing were thoroughly discussed as well as acceptable contaminated soil.
Recovery Team Leader Dana Woodword noted that this time of rebuild will be a trying time of all and one of the most difficult times of the rebuild.
Demolition and Protective Fencing Costs
It was recommended that the RMWB issue invoices to property owners for any costs of protective fencing being put up around lots during the rebuild and for the costs of demolition undertaken by the Municipality as a result of the Wildfire, be added to the tax roll for the respective properties following the issuance of an invoice, with the intent that these costs be removed from the tax roll when invoices are paid.
The following rebuild timeline was set for property owners:
September 30, 2016: The deadline for removing and disposing of all debris, ash and contaminated soil.
October 31, 2016: The deadline for removing the foundation and backfilling or otherwise electing to leave the foundation in place and take such other measures as are approved by a Safety Codes Officer to cover the homes in a manner that mitigates the risk of persons falling into the hole.
June 30, 2017: The deadline for removing the foundation for those who chose to leave their foundation in place. The resident then has 30 days to backfill or commence their rebuild.
As of October 1st, 2016, 88 wildfire affected properties were not demolished by property owners as required by the Demolition Order.
These properties were subsequently demolished by the Municipality at a cost of $2,206,533.76.
To date, 93 demolished properties were found to pose additional public safety hazards and were enclosed with protective fencing by the Municipality. The cost to secure these properties was $11,670.52 in 2016 and $16,399.42 between January 1 and March 31, 2017.
Properties that remain fenced incur an average monthly rental cost of $58.78.
The cost of demolition and protective fencing for private properties is the responsibility of the property owner.
In the case of the 2016 Wildfire, the majority of demolition costs have already been covered by homeowner insurance.
While the Demolition Order gave the authority to the Municipality to add the costs to the tax roll, all communications regarding the Order stated that the Municipality may add the cost to the tax roll subject to Council approval.
Therefore it is recommended that Council ultimately approve any additions to the tax roll associated with this initiative.
Waiver of Fee – Acceptable Contaminated Soil
An objective of the Recovery Task Force (RTF) is to minimize the financial burden to residents impacted by the 2016 Wildfire.
The RTF is recommending that the WBRC recommends City Council the following:
To waive the landfill disposal rate for acceptable contaminated soil for all residential properties within wildfire damaged areas until December 31, 2018.
To waive the landfill disposal rate for acceptable contaminated soil for the Municipality and its contractors that dispose of soil from wildfire damaged areas until December 31, 2018.
Refunds be issued for any acceptable contaminated soil fees that have been paid to date resulting from wildfire damaged areas.
The proposed fee waiver will minimize the cost to residents and, subject to locating a soil stockpiling site, allow the Municipality the ability to repurpose the soil for future projects.
Currently, residents disposing of soil via their contractor at the Landfill, from residential properties, have two options:
- Arrange for soil analysis at the property owner’s expense to determine if the soil meets the Landfill Class II lab analysis for disposal and can be used as daily cover, thus qualifying for a waiver of the dumping fees;
- Pay $75 per tonne to dispose of the acceptable contaminated soil as specified in Utility Rates Bylaw No. 10/001.
The RTF and the Landfill continue to receive complaints about the current soil disposal procedures.
Residents were previously informed that the Phase 2 environmental testing did not present any concerns, and lab analyses completed to date in the wildfire affected areas have shown the soil is clean.
Many delegates were present at the meeting and allowed five minutes to speak before the WBRC.
Ultimately the WBRC was advised by delegates to consider utilizing the soil to prevent clogging the landfill.
A motion was made for the RTF to come up with the strategy with how the soil should be dealt with.
Repeal of Noise Bylaw
The Recovery Task Force (RTF) recommended to revoke Bylaw No. 16/015 to allow wildfire recovery noise at any time of the day.
There are still a limited number of demolitions occurring but the number is not sufficient to justify 24-hour noise.
Construction Site Safety for Children
Members of the Recovery Task Force gave a presentation on construction site safety in regards to and children.
The have made a cartoon video to be used by the school districts in the region titled “Rebuilding Wood Buffalo, How to stay safe.”
“Do you know there are more than 15,00 homes that will be rebuilt? That means your neighborhood will be busy,” said one of the characters in the video.
The video reminded children that they need to stop, look and listen when walking in a construction area and to refrain from touching any machinery as they may be hot.
The video also showed the different types of equipment and machines that children might see in their neighborhoods as they are being rebuilt and advised children to wear bright colours, make eye contact with drivers and reminded them that a construction site is not a playground.
It is important that children proceed with caution in a construction area and are advised to be aware, be seen and be safe.
Update on the 2016 wildfire recovery campaign
The Recovery Task Force gave an update on the 2016 wildfire recovery campaign.
The Campaign consists of five key action areas or pillars with primary objectives and desired outcomes.
- People Pillar – Enhance the well being of all RMWB residents
- Environment Pillar – Assess and remediate the environmental impacts of the wildfire
- Economy Pillar – Reinvigorate economic activity
- Rebuild Pillar – Rapid reconstruction of our community to address and repair wildfire damages
- Mitigate Pillar – Implement mitigation measures with a view to improving resiliency
Major initiatives to date of each pillar were discussed as well as ongoing initiatives and quarter two and three priorities.
The agenda of the meeting and video can be found on the RMWB website.