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Waterways residents call for structural mitigation, egress road progress

IMAGE. A map of 2020 Flood evacuation areas in downtown Fort McMurray, including Waterways. Supplied by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

RMWB Council heard a presentation on Waterways in the administration’s flood mitigation options.

Mayor and Councillors passed motions for Taiga Nova Eco-Industrial Park and Downtown.

RELATED: Administration releases flood risk, preparedness reports to RMWB Council

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Another motion passed by Council asks the administration to hold one-on-one meetings with Ptarmigan Court residents.

RELATED: RMWB to conduct talks with Ptarmigan Court on flood mitigation options

“THAT Administration offers to buy out properties in Waterways below 250-meters at 2020 fair market value, until May 31, 2021, limit new development below 250-meters, and introduce enhanced flood provisions in the Land Use Bylaw for development above 250-meters, and re-evaluate structural mitigation concepts for Waterways once the extent of the buyout is confirmed.”

The RMWB estimated the completion of structural flood mitigation, including an egress road, is $40-million.

There are 94 private properties below the 250-meter line in Waterways.

Nick Sanders said the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce does not support a buyout saying it would compromise the region’s business sector.

“It’s too nice a neighbourhood to give up on.”

He added there is concern about the lack of an alternate egress road or Saline Creek Parkway.

Sanders said YMM Chamber prefers an increase in structural mitigation to the 1:200 year flood level.

The administration received two written submissions, and another eight read aloud for the record.

There was concern about residents about the degradation of public services and infrastructure should buyouts proceed.

CAO Jamie Doyle said the Municipality would continue implementing those services.

Council decision

Councillor Krista Balsom put forward a motion which includes a deadline for the mediation for buyouts.

The motion also includes a limit development below 250-meters and introduce enhanced flood provisions in the Land Use Bylaw for development above 250-meters.

RMWB Council defeated the motion 7 – 1, arguing the costs were too great.

Another amended motion from Councillor Sheila Lalonde called for more discussion with Waterways residents, similar to Ptarmigan Court.

The discussions would focus on whether buyouts, funding to raise properties under 250-meters or land swaps is amenable to property owners.

If approved, the administration would return with a report, including costs for the options, within 90 days.

Councillors questioned if the administration had time to speak with all residents in Waterways.

Mayor and Councillors defeated that motion with a tie vote of 4 – 4.

Councillor Jane Stroud next introduced a motion for Waterways.

“THAT Administration completes the structural flood mitigation project for Waterways to a level of 1:200 (250.9-meters) by Oct. 15, 2022, limit development below 250-meters, and introduce enhanced flood provisions in the Land Use Bylaw for development above 250-meters, and advocate on behalf of Downtown property owners to the Government of Alberta and Insurance Bureau of Canada.”

Mayor Don Scott offered a friendly amendment detailing overland flood insurance.

Mayor and Councillors felt it was a compromise, with Stroud adding it gives Waterways a flood mitigation plan.

RMWB Council passed the motion by a 7 – 1 margin.

A progress report will return to RMWB Council within 90 days.

According to 2018 census data, Waterways has 232 inhabitants.