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Council votes to accelerate flood mitigation plan

PHOTO. RMWB Council meets at the Syncrude Athletic Park Clubhouse on Feb. 11, 2020. MYMCMURRAY/Phil Wood.

RMWB Council voted unanimously in favour of a motion calling for an accelerated flood mitigation plan.

This tasks the administration with coming before Council with a plan within 30 days.

It also calls for an engineering solution including costs and measures to prevent a repeat of the Boil Water Advisory.

READ MORE: Timetable for lifting boil water advisory released

Mayor Don Scott cited prior flooding events in 1977 and 1997 adding over the past 145 years, 15 floods impacted the region.

“I believe that the legacy of this Council should be that we were the ones who completed this job. This has been going on far too long, and we see the reprecussions with what happened to our downtown.”

He added that, to date, the RMWB spent $150-million on mitigation efforts.

Councillor Bruce Inglis asked if the timeline is too short for Municipal staff.

CAO Jamie Doyle said the administration has historical data on flood mitigation adding it will investigate procurement and financing options.

“Oddly enough, in concert with the request for the expediency in the flood mitigation program as well as the Boil Water Advisory, we’re also looking at development options. So, they all dovetail quite nicely and are similar in nature from a research and analysis component.”

He said he is confident in the RMWB’s departments like Planning and Development, Engineering, and Public Works.

The 2020 River Break Up Flood impacted the Lower Townsite, Waterways, Draper, and surrounding areas.

“We need to make sure that our downtown is a place they want to invest in,” Said Mayor Don Scott, “we need to make sure that we are creating an environment where people want to live and start a business, and I believe key to that is making sure it’s protected.”

RMWB Council also voted unanimously in favour of temporary recreational vehicle (RV) parking on flood-impacted lots.

This applies to residents living in the Urban Service Area and Rural Service Area.

In the amendments to the land use bylaw, residents may park up to two RVs on their lots in the front yard, parking pad or driveway.

RVs must not pose a health or safety risk.

These changes will remain in effect until October 1, 2020.

Residents may receive a 30-day extension if they apply in writing with the Development Authority prior to the deadline.

Council made similar changes to the bylaw following the 2016 wildfire.

Mayor and Councillors formally recognized the efforts of the region’s Multi-Sector Social Recovery Task Force.

RMWB Council unanimously approved a motion for the Municipality to work with the Social Sustainability Plan Committee to advise on mental wellness in the region.

Chantal Beaver, Executive Director of FuseSocial shared the committee’s overall goal.

“We’re looking at social, economic, and environmental viability together and how we can work together as a social sector with the [Economic Development Corporation, Keyano College, etc.] to make sure we have social sustainability for years to come. That’s the overall win as a plan.”

The committee also advises on short and long-term wellbeing by identifying priorities, guiding decision making, allocating resources, and collaborating community action.

Its current plan is to address mental health in the region’s COVID-19 response and flood recovery.

Mayor Don Scott added Some Other Solutions did not receive funding from the province.

Councillor Verna Murphy asked RMWB Council defer a motion on land expropriation for the secondary egress road.

They will review that motion upon the completion of flood mitigation efforts.

READ MORE: RMWB Council mulls over expropriation for egress road

Mayor and Councillors also voted 9 – 1 to defer another motion prioritizing the work on the flood mitigation project.

If approved, the motion will put on hold non-shovel ready capital projects in the Lower Townsite and works by Downtown Revitalization and Waterfront Advisory Committees.

Several delegates spoke in opposition to the motion, including members of the 2022 Arctic Winter Games Host Society and Fort McMurray Construction Association.

RMWB Council will speak to that matter at the next scheduled meeting on June 9.