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RMWB Wildfire Recovery Information

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has released another recovery progress report.

Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee Updates

On Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee (WBRC) welcomed a presentation from Dana Woodworth, Team Leader of the Wood Buffalo Recovery Task Force, on regional mitigation measures. The WBRC unanimously approved a motion to recommend to Council for approval a number of items including the development of a regional-level alternative egress and emergency evacuation route, FireSmart, leveraging experts on the best way to protect the Region from a WUI fire and expanding the capacity on the WUI fire crew similar to Slave Lake.

The WBRC also welcomed presentations by the Social Recovery Task Force, and the Canadian Red Cross – in partnership with Wood Buffalo Economic Development – related to support for small businesses. More information about the support available for small businesses is below.

Business Relief Funding

On Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, the Canadian Red Cross and the Municipality launched a joint application for small businesses needing financial support.

In this second phase of financial relief, the Red Cross will provide financial assistance up to $8,000 to eligible small businesses to support fixed and new expenses that have occurred as a result of interrupted business operations.

The Municipality has allocated a total of $15 million to its Small Business Workforce Support Program with a total of $5 million being delivered as immediate financial assistance, and the remaining $10 million dedicated to long-term recovery efforts. The goal of the Small Business Workforce Support Program is to help small business employers by providing financial assistance to offset costs related to attracting, hiring and retaining employees.

Business owners can now apply for financial relief funding from both programs by completing an application online at ymmsmallbizrecovery.ca.

Birchwood Trails FireSmart Project

In a continuing effort to prevent and lessen the effects of future wildfires, the Municipality has contracted Infinite Forestry Consulting Ltd. to perform FireSmart measures along the exterior edge of the Birchwood Trails. This particular work addresses the potential for a wildfire by decreasing the amount of vegetation that may fuel it. This will be accomplished by thinning and pruning trees, constructing fuel breaks and removal of debris. Residents are reminded this is not a clear cutting operation. As a result of this project, timber will be made available to residents for firewood.

Any remaining debris will be removed through safe, controlled burns that are monitored continuously to minimize smoke. Temporary closures may be in effect at various locations on Birchwood Trails during the course of this work. While using the Birchwood Trails, residents are asked to use caution, observe signs and heed any directions from work crews.

To learn more about this project, visit rmwb.ca/birchwoodtrails.

Firebreak Drainage Repair Project

On Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, the Municipality announced the launch of a Firebreak Drainage Improvement project. This is a proactive approach to eliminate safety hazards or the risk of property damage from ponding and drainage issues that emerged in firebreaks damaged during tree and vegetation removal.

The drainage improvements are to be completed before freeze-up to prevent further drainage issues during the spring melt. The drainage improvement project will not include any landscaping or restoration of the firebreak areas in its scope of work. Community engagements for landscaping and development will take place in 2017 to allow for public input.

To learn more about the Firebreak Drainage Improvement project or to see a map of planned projects, visit rmwb.ca/firebreakdrainage.

Programs and Other Initiatives

Wood Buffalo Economic Development is pleased to host – in partnership with various community partners – a number of upcoming events to assist business owners in recovery, including:

  • Monday, Oct. 24 – Social Media Monday, with a focus on Facebook advertising
  • Tuesday, Oct. 25 – Ask An Expert, with a focus on accounting
  • Monday, Oct. 31 – Social Media Monday, with a focus on Facebook analytics

A complete list of events can be found at: choosewoodbuffalo.ca/events.

Demolition and Debris Removal

Demolition and debris removal is continuing across the community:

Date Demo Permits Received Demo Permits Approved Demo Inspections Completed Rebuild Permits
Oct. 20 1,757 1,736 931 198
Oct. 13 1,741 1,691 791 154
Oct. 6 1,704 1,659 701 145
Sept. 29 1,613 1,575 551 108
Sept. 22 1,565 1,526 418 77
Sept. 15 1,506 1,450 319 67
Sept. 8 1,456 1,400 279 53
Sept. 1 1,403 1,333 227 41
Aug. 25 1,270 1,248 197 10
Aug. 18 1,167 1,083 142 6
Aug. 11 1,059 827 N/A 0
Aug. 4 732 419 51 0


Returning residents are encouraged to contact their natural gas retailer as soon as possible to have heating service restored. When temperatures dip below zero, there could be freezing of water pipes at their property which can cause damage through the winter months. Heating standing homes helps to prevent against this kind of damage.

Here for You: Public Information Sessions

Upcoming engagement opportunities in the community:

  • Today, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Shell Place at MacDonald Island Park. The session will provide an update on each of the five pillars – people, environment, economy, rebuild and mitigate – from the Wildfire Recovery Campaign Plan. The formal presentation will be livestreamed on the Municipality’s Facebook page. Residents will be able to ask questions through the Facebook stream comment section, to be incorporated into the in-person Q&A portion of the presentation.
  • Today, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Syncrude Sport & Wellness Centre. The session will provide a general recovery update for Draper residents.
  • Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Shell Place at MacDonald Island Park. The session will offer recovery updates for local business owners, and an update on upcoming FireSmart activities in the Birchwood Trails.

Residents are reminded that the weekly Telephone Town Hall on Monday evenings has ended. The Municipality is committed to keeping the public informed and will continue to identify new tools to engage residents.

As temperatures fall and snow forecasts draw closer, the Municipality will be reactivating Winter Maintenance Zones in all areas of Fort McMurray. Residents are reminded to check their zones and be prepared to move their vehicles in advance of snowplowing. For more information, visit rmwb.ca/WMZ.

A further Progress Report will be issued on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016.

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Winter Maintenance Subzones 1 & 2 are active Jan. 20 - 24.