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FAQ : Wildfire Recovery

To support residents in the recovery process, the Municipality has compiled the following list of answers to the community’s frequently asked questions.

Rebuilding in Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways

How do I know my home is safe for re-entry?

Extensive safety mitigation measures have been put in place in collaboration with the Municipality and the Government of Alberta which have demonstrated to the Chief Medical Officer of Health that it is safe for residents of standing homes in Phase 2 green zones of Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways to return.

These measures include, but are not limited to :

  • Restoration of medical services for residents
  • Forest and structural ash clearing
  • Double tackifier application to destroyed homes
  • Restoration of potable water
  • Signage at and near construction areas
  • Designated haul routes for demolition contractors
  • Perimeter fencing around all impacted neighbourhoods
  • Environmental monitoring of ash and soil

What do I do with my fridge?

The Municipal Landfill is accepting residential waste, including fridges and other large appliances seven days a week, from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. at no charge to residents.

Do I have drinkable water in my home ?

Alberta Health Services has confirmed that water quality has been restored to a safe level for all water system users serviced by the Fort McMurray water treatment plant, including Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways.

How do I get my utilities re-connected?

Electricity service has been returned to all homes. If you do not have electricity, check your main electric panel and breaker — a blown fuse or tripped breaker could be the cause. Simply moving any tripped switches to the ‘on’ position can restore electricity.

If there are further issues, call ATCO Electric 24/7 Emergency Outage Line at 1-800-668-5506.

To restore gas service upon your return, contact ATCO Gas Customer Assistance Centre at 780-310-5678.

I lived in a duplex. How do I find the owner of the other half of my building so i can discuss rebuilding options?

Assuming you have the address, you can go to any registry office and ask who the registered property owner is. You will not be given contact information for that individual, but can then use that person’s name to reach out through personal connections or social media.

I owned a multi-family home (e.g. duplex, patio home, townhouse) and want to rebuild a single-family dwelling on my lot. Can I do this?

The Recovery Committee is working with Administration and the Wood Buffalo Recovery Task Force to clarify the steps for home owners in this situation. There are a number of complicating factors in the decision-making process to allow a change from multi-family home to single-family dwelling.

  • When you rebuild your home, you will need to meet the Land Use Bylaw and the Alberta Building Code (ABC) that are in effect at the time of your permit application.
  • Your new home design needs to meet setback requirements (the distance from your property line to your home) for a single-family dwelling on a property sized for part of a multi-family home. Multi-family home lots are much smaller, which will come into conflict with setback requirements for single-family homes.
  • The decision of your neighbour in a multi-family home will affect your plans, as your insurance policy may require you to rebuild exactly what you had before. Residents are encouraged to speak with their insurance adjuster or contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada at 1-844-227-5422 for advice.

What measures are in place to ensure contractors are behaving appropriately?

Ongoing enforcement is in place across the demolition and construction areas. If residents notice anything unacceptable, call the PULSE Call Line.

How do I report irresponsible contractors?

When possible, make a note of the company name and license plate, then report the incident to the PULSE Call Line.

I can't find a contractor to repair my home. Where should I look?

Choosing a contractor is a personal choice. Some options to identify a contractor include your insurance adjuster or the Fort McMurray Construction Association

Can I complete repairs on my home now?

Yes, repairs can be completed on all homes in Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways.

Where are the haul routes in my neighbourhood?

Haul routes are clearly identified throughout your neighbourhood, 30 kilometre per hour speed limit on haul routes to avoid stirring up and spreading ash or dust, and loss of debris. Haul routes are indicated on these Phase 1 re-entry maps:

Public Infrastructure

Are the parks and playgrounds in my community safe to use?

The playground structures and surface areas in Fort McMurray, Saprae Creek, Anzac and Gregoire Lake Estates have been cleaned four times since the fire event. The Municipal Parks Department cleaned the structures three times with a Hotsy Pressure Washer which is a method of cleaning with high pressure using hot water. They were also cleaned once by a contractor hired by the Municipality with soap and water.

Play structures with gravel surface areas had the gravel replaced/washed before residents returned.

Air monitoring devices (EBAM) were placed in close proximity to the play structures and recreation areas prior to Phase 1 re-entry in Abasand and Beacon Hill.

Will I have transit service when I return?

Residents of Abasand and Beacon Hill now have access to transit services. New transit schedules are available at the Wood Buffalo Transit website.

Health & Safety

Is AHS offering inspections to home owners?

Yes, AHS is offering home inspections to home owners with a pink placard on their home. Residents can request one by emailing NorthZone.EnvironmentalHealth@ahs.ca or call 780-791-6078.

Is my garden safe to grow food in?

Testing has been done in the community gardens and results indicated that residents can safely plant a garden and consume food from that soil.

If you wish to have your soil tested, contact your Insurance provider to determine if environmental testing is included in your home insurance poilcy and how it could be used to test your garden.

Will my children and pets be safe?

The safety of your children and pets have been a central part of this plan, which is why so many steps are in place to address potential risks.

I own a business in Abasand/Beacon Hill/Waterways. How does this decision affect me?

If the business is in the re-entry area and deemed a green-building, the business owner has the option to re-open their business if it is fit to do so.

Ongoing supports are in place to proactively reach out to business owners to provide support where needed. For more information, visit Economic Development website.

Support for small businesses is also available for the Red Cross by calling 1-800-418-1111

How do I know my home is structurally sound and safe to enter ?

A rapid damage assessment was conducted, to assess external safety of homes. Residents should inspect their property with their insurance adjusters should they have any concerns about their home.

Will environmental monitoring continue in Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways after re-entry and what kind of testing will be done?

Yes, monitoring is ongoing throughout Wood Buffalo with results available at the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association website.

There are multiple forms of air quality monitoring taking place throughout the region.

SPECS Due Diligence Downwind Monitoring Program and Handheld Air Monitoring During Fire Debris Removal -  this monitoring program gathered sampling during site activities. A baseline survey was established to allow for direct read equipment to be used for ongoing activities.

Temporary environment-proof beta-attenuation monitors (EBAM) operated by Alberta Environment and Parks , and Wood Buffalo Environmental Association. These monitors measure particulate matter (PM2.5) 24/7 and sent notifications to Alberta Environment and Parks, Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services and the Municipality dedicated email for the Phase 1 reentry if the Ambient Air Quality Objective for PM2.5 was exceeded. Monitors are positioned in green spaces of communities where residents may gather.

You can view data from the monitors online.

Continuous air quality monitoring stations operated by the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association monitor ambient air quality conditions for the entire region. While these stations do not monitor local dust production, they can provide information about the general state of air quality and should conditions change, the information will be reviewed by the Municipality to see if on-site demolition activities should be temporarily suspended.

Data from these monitors are available at the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association .

Playgrounds and public reaction areas will be monitored and assessed to ensure the facilities remain safe for use during demolition activities.

Municipal Parks staff will continue to provide regular maintenance services to the areas such as equipment safety inspections, garbage pick up, lawn maintenance, trail and parking lot maintenance

Who do I contact if I have concerns about dust?

Residents are encouraged to call the PULSE Call Line.

Repair and Building Permits

If I decide not to rebuild, can I leave my lot vacant indefinitely?

If you decide not to rebuild, you can leave the lot vacant assuming there are no restrictions with your insurance policy. You will be required to backfill the lot to the proper grade so you’re not draining on to other people’s properties.

Can we only use contractors on the approved provincial builder’s list (the RMWB Builder Registry)?

Yes, in order for a building permit to be issued the contractor must be on the RMWB Builder Registry, which is the approved builders list with the provincial registry. This is a provincial standard over which the Municipality has no influence. If the Municipality issues a permit to a contractor not on that list, we can face substantial fines.

To determine if your contractor is on that list or if you want more information, call Municipal Affairs toll-free at 1.866.421.6929.

Is the Municipality offering help to those whose homes were used as a firebreak to prevent fire from spreading to other homes?

On Oct. 11, 2016, Council agreed to adopt several approaches suggested by the Wood Buffalo Recovery Task Force and Administration to address compensation for properties affected by the firebreak. The following recommendations are currently in effect:

  • Firebreak property owners will submit a claim, if they have not already done so, to their residential insurer.
  • If the firebreak property owners are uninsured or under insured, they will submit the details of their clean to the Municipality’s Insurance Services Department who will submit the claim to the Municipality’s insurer.
  • The Municipality will work collaboratively with its insurer and request the insurer provide a timely, formal position on whether the policy will compensate firebreak property owners for the damage or destruction to their property.
  • If the Municipal insurer does not compensate the firebreak property owners in a timely manner, the Municipality will work with the Disaster Recovery Program to develop a financial assistance program for the firebreak property owners for Council’s consideration.
  • The Municipality will work closely with firebreak property owners to assist in identifying community support mechanisms that may be available to assist in bridging gaps in insurance coverage.

View the Oct. 11 report to Council on the Firebreak Program.

For more information, call the PULSE Call Line.

Planning & Development

What does the Planning & Development Department do?

The Planning and Development department provides support to residents and builders for items related to planning land use and development activities within the region. Providing timely and accurate customer service is essential to facilitating all aspects of development planning. These services are provided through three branches within the department:

  • Community Development Planning This branch is responsible for the immediate planning requirements of customers, including interpretation and application of land use bylaws, processing applications to subdivide lands and processing Development Permits
  • Comprehensive Planning: This branch provided professional planning support, monitors progress and responds to changes through community engagement, education and the development of land development policies which guide growth of the Municipality.
  • Safety Codes:This branch is responsible for reviewing, permitting and inspecting construction-related activities within the region, and ensuring compliance with all applicable codes and regulations, including the administration of the Alberta Safety Codes Act . These services are provided through the issuance of building, electrical, plumbing and gas permits.

What is the difference between a building permit and a development permit?

The Safety Codes Permit process is based on the Alberta Safety Codes Act, the Alberta Building Code ,Plumbing Code, Electrical Code and Fire Codes for the construction, alteration or additions for both residential and commercial buildings. Plan reviews, approvals and site inspections are provided in accordance with the required codes used in each discipline to ensure safety for all residents of Wood Buffalo.

Building Permit applies to new buildings or structures, swimming pools or hot tubs. This permit also applies to demolitions, relocations, repairs or alterations to existing buildings and structures.

Building permits are designed to address life and safety issues of the occupants and users of those buildings or structures.

Development Permits are required for new projects, changes in the use of a property, or additions to existing structures. For example, a new building in a particular location or addition to an office or warehouse requires a building permit. Development permits address issues of community planning, bylaws, land use, image and compatibility. When undertaking anew project, it is always best to consult with Planning and Development office to find out what permits you will need.

The development permit process is based on the Municipal Government Act and the Land Use Bylaw. Plan reviews, approvals and site inspections in relationship to land use, site development, streetscape, planning principles, densities, landscaping, transportation, parking, etc. are provided to ensure development takes place in accordance to the approved planning, engineering and environmental policies.

What can applicants do to speed up the application process?

  1. Apply for a development permit prior to a building permit.
  2. Carefully follow the application requirements lists to ensure the application is complete. Residents are encouraged to ensure they are using the right checklist for the job. Beyond the checklists, there are project specific considerations residents are encouraged to take into account.
  3. Ensure the correct fee is submitted with the application.
  4. Provide all required documentation when submitting your plans. Residents are also encouraged to respond to any followup from the Municipality in a timely manner. If there is a delay in receiving the required information, the issuance of the permit will be delayed significantly

Demolition Information & Permitting

Where is the Regional Landfill

The Landfill is located off of Highway 63, south of the city (approximately one kilometre from Highway 69 or the Airport Road turn off, on the opposite side).

What are the Landfill hours of operation?

The landfill is open seven days a week with the exception of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The regular hours of operation are 8:15 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.

What are the Landfill fees?

Fees for the disposal of solid waste at the landfill are outlined in the Utility Rates Bylaw as Schedule A.

(As part of wildfire recovery, tipping fees for residential household waste were waived through Oct. 31)

Who made the decision to change landfill fees for our Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways homes and why wasn't it a Council decision ?

The landfill fees are regulated as an approved bylaw from Council under the utility rates bylaw. The $75 per tonne for contaminated soils is for a residential soils related to the wildfire coming from any area of town. Any of those areas will be charged $75 per tonne for the soil coming from fire-related houses or fire-related properties.

There is a $85-per-tonne charge for any debris that is related to that, so any ash or actual debris.

The process related to contaminated soil previous to the wildfire has changed — the bylaw has been streamlined so contractors do not have a to provide information on what the contaminants in the soil are, as the Municipality has already done the testing.

No paperwork has to be provided; it is simply the charge for contaminated soils for any residential, fire-burned properties.

How much are tipping fees?

Fees for the disposal of solid waste at the landfill are outlined in the Utility Rates Bylaw as Schedule A.

What waste characterization testing is required before disposal?

Waste characterization testing will depend on the type of property that needs to be disposed.

Residential properties (that did not have a home business attached) do not require any advance clean up testing of the soil or ash. This sampling was already performed by the Regional Emergency Operations Centre team.

If your residence contained a home business that required the use or storage of hazardous chemicals (e.g. oil, lubricants, cleaners, preservatives), waste characterization testing may be required. These properties will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and testing will reflect the nature of the business.

For more information, contact the Landfill at solid.waste@rmwb.ca

Do I have to separate my debris?

Yes, debris must be separated prior to disposal at the lLandfill. We are asking for the following segregation to take place:

  • Metals: appliances, BBQs, exercise equipment, beams, railings, etc.
  • Concrete: bricks, patio stones, asphalt, porcelain fixtures, etc.
  • Hazardous waste: propane tanks, paint, batteries, etc.
  • Electronics:TVs, computers, printers, etc.
  • Trees and shrubs: burned, chipped or in manageable sizes
  • Lumber: clean untreated limber can be recycled and should be kept separate

What do I do with my damaged vehicle(s), quad, boat, etc.?

The Landfill does not accept damaged vehicles, quads, boats or similar items.

If you have insurance, contact your provider to report the loss and seek disposal directions. If you do not have insurance, contact a scrap metal company or junkyard.

I had a gun cabinet, firearms or ammunition (or ammunition making supplies) in my home. How do I handle these items?

Ensure you advise your contractor that these items may still be on site. If the gun cabinet and/or ammunition appear to have survived the fire or damage, they are still dangerous.

Contact the Landfill immediately at solidwaste@rmwb.cafor direction how to safely dispose of the items.

Do not place these items with your debris or ash for disposal

Do I need to do anything special if I have a home business?

Depending on what your home business entailed, you may be required to dispose of debris in a special way or undertake special testing. Contact the Landfill at solid.waste@rmwb.ca for direction.

Site Fencing

What is considered "secure site fencing" by Building Safety Codes?

If a property is deemed harzadous, fencing constructed of standard 1.8 metres(six feet) high steel fence panels are required, they are wired together and adequately braced to enure they are stable and are not easily bypassed.

What is considered a hazard?

The following items are considered hazards on a property:

  • Open excavation
  • Fire debris
  • Contaminated soil
  • Open foundations
  • Depressions deeper than 24 inches
  • Substantial water accumulation

I missed the deadline of Oct. 31, 2016 for installation of my site fencing. What happens now?

If fencing was not installed around an unsafe site by Oct. 31, the Regional Municipality of Municipality installs fencing around the site hazards and the cost will be applied to the tax roll.

Is site fencing an insurable expense?

Speak with your insurance adjuster to determine is fencing costs are covered under your insurance policy.

What is the cost for site fencing?

An average fencing rental is about $150 a month for 300 feet of fence. The cost could be reduced if owners worked together to fence off damaged rows of properties as opposed to individual lots. The average cost of purchasing fencing is about $2,200-$3,000 for 300 feet of fence.

There are additional costs for shipping and setting up of the fence. Fencing installed by the Municipality on behalf of the owners who did not comply with the order will be leased, and all associated costs and expenses will be charged to the tax roll.

Duplex/Patio Homes

I owned a multi-family home (e.g. duplex, patio home or townhouse) and want to rebuild a single-family dwelling on my lot. Can I do this?

The Recovery Committee is working with Administration and the Wood Buffalo Recovery Task Force to clarify the steps for home owners in this situation. There are a number of complicating factors in the decision-making process to allow a change from multi-family home to single-family dwelling.

  • When you rebuild your home, you will need to meet the Land Use Bylaw and the Alberta Building Codethat are in effect at the time of your permit application
  • Your new home design needs to meet setback requirements (the distance from your property line to your home) for a single-family dwelling on a property sized for part of a multi-family home. Multi-family home lots are much smaller, which will come into conflict with setback requirements for single-family homes.
  • The decision of your neighbour in a multi-family home wil affect your plans, as your insurance policy may require you to rebuild exactly what you had before. Residents are encouraged to speak with their insurance adjuster or contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada at 1-844-227-5422 for advice.

The housing market is at a low and the rebuild costs after the fire are high, making it make profitable for some to take a buyout, leave their land and purchase another property. How does this affect homeowners in duplexes?

As an owner of a duplex, you have some obligation to talk to your neighbor and decide whether to rebuild or not. If you have a replacement cost endorsement within your insurance policy, you may have the option of accepting a cash value of the depreciated cost.

You’d also have some obligations in relation to your title, because you share common walls with your neighbour.

We encourage you to speak with your insurance company and your neighbor to come up with a collective solution.

If you have additional questions, call the Consumer Information Centre at 1-877-227-5422.

Duplex/Patio Homes

I lived in a duplex. How do I find the owner of the other half of my building so I can discuss rebuilding options?

Assuming you have the address, you can go to any registry office and ask who the registered property owner is. You will not be given contact information for that individual, but can then use that person’s name to reach out through personal connections or social media.

If I lost my duplex home and my neighbour doesn’t have insurance, will the Municipality approve me for a single home, because waiting for the neighbour can take several years?

You will need to meet the Land Use Bylaw that is in effect when you apply, as well as any applicable safety codes.

Currently the Planning & Development Department and the Recovery Committee are working to understand the options and challenges for those lots. One of the primary concerns is that a duplex lot is usually smaller than a single family dwelling lot and it would be challenging to fit a single-family home within the smaller lot and still meet requirements. We are looking at all options to better understand the issues and help resolve them.

We recommend you contact a Planner with the Planning & Development Department to gain a better understanding of your options. The planner can assess your lot details and specific situation to provide advice.

To contact Planning & Development, call 780-799-8695 or visit in person (Timberlea Landing, 309 Powder Dr.)

In regards to duplexes, if one half decides to rebuild and the other half decides not to, what’s the obligation in terms of one homeowner on one side of the duplex versus the other? How do you find out what your obligations are before you as a homeowner make a decision to rebuild versus not be able to rebuild?

Under the terms and conditions of your insurance policy, an owner does not have to rebuild should they choose not to. Many times are options under insurance policies to accept an actual cash value, which is usually a depreciated value.

You may also have a replacement-cost policy where you would be entitled to the replacement cost if you choose to go that route.

Speak to your insurance adjuster to make sure you understand your rights and obligations under the policy and make certain they provide the information you are looking for. If any issues arise, speak with a consumer information officer at the Insurance Bureau of Canada by calling 1-844-227-5422.

RVs

Am I able to park my RV on my property during the winter?

Yes, long as the property is not destroyed as a result of the wildfire, you can park an RV in the driveway. Friends or neighbours are able to park your RV on their driveway as an alternate option for those whose homes were damaged or destroyed.

Mortgages & Property Taxes

Is the federal government lifting GST charges on rebuilding?

No, the federal government is not lifting GST charges on rebuilding. Contractors will be charging GST and those taxes will be covered under your insurance policy subject to its terms and conditions.

Why have my taxes gone up when my house has burned down?

When you receive your assessment notice in March each year, your property has been valued based on two key dates:

  • Valuation date: the market value your property of July 1 of the previous year.
  • Condition date: the actual physical condition of your property as of Dec. 31 of the previous year.

Your 2017 property assessment notice will be mailed on Feb. 28. Your assessed valued will be based on a valuation date of July 1, 2016, and a condition date of Dec 31, 2016.

Please note that on Aug. 30, 2016, Council passed a motion under Section 347 of the Municipal Government Act cancelling a portion of the municipal tax for residential properties for the 2016 tax year due to the wildfire.

Learn more about the 2016 Wildfire Tax Relief Program.

Recovery Committee

What is the Recovery Committee?

On June 21, 2016, the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee (WBRC) was created and approved by Council to provide policy and governance oversight of the community’s recovery from the wildfire.

I heard there are in-person information sessions. When is the next one?

On Aug. 18, 2016, the Here for You public information sessions were launched as part of the ongoing effort to listen to your concerns, answer your questions and bring you information on recovery efforts.

These sessions are held on an as-needed basis with the goal of supporting a community-driven recovery process that is informative, helpful and catered to the needs of residents.

View the schedule of upcoming sessions

Health & Safety

The recovery has taken a toll on my physical, mental and/or emotional health. Where can I go for help?

There are a range of supports available through Alberta Health Services to support your physical, mental and/or emotional health. A full list of resources is available at the Alberta Health Services website.

What are the contaminants left behind in burned areas, and where are the results of the testing for contaminants?

The Municipality has conducted phases one and two testing with the Government of Alberta. Information about the testing is available Environmental Mentoring Fort McMurray.

How was ash from destroyed structures tested?

Phase 1 testing included sampling ash and debris resulting from the fire to assess potential contaminants of concern in burned urban and forested areas. Alberta Environment and Parks sampling with conducted between May 12 – 15, 2016, to determine if ash and debris could be disposed of safely in landfills. Additional samples were collected by the Municipality from May 25 – 26, and from June 2 – 4. In total 136 ash samples were collected and analyzed for:

  • Petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs)
  • Inorganics and general chemistry (including pH)
  • Metals
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Dioxins and furans
  • Asbestos (bulk) in ash
  • Asbestos (fibrous) in air

How was soil tested ?

Phase 2 soil-sample testing consisted of an assessment of unburned soil from urban gardens and burned soil in residential areas. Soil was analyzed for:

  • Petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs)
  • Inorganics and general chemistry (including pH)
  • Metals
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Dioxins and furans

The results of this testing is available through the Government of Alberta’s Environmental Mentoring Fort McMurray website.

What were the results of Phase 1 ash-sample testing?

Phase 1 ash sampling was performed immediately to determine if there were any immediate concerns to people working in the heavily affected area. The results of the ash determined there were no known windblown contaminants of concern, however workers should take precautions by wearing the proper PPE. The ash sampling was beneficial to determine if there could be long term health and or ecological effects.

Results indicated that contaminants were localized within the ash and not spread to soils or neighbouring properties. And reinforced with the application of a tackifier. By testing the ash, we were able to determine if the ash was classified as a hazardous waste (which would require special disposal at a hazardous waste landfill) or if it was classified as regular waste.

The results indicated that the ash was low in pH, high in zinc and had elevated levels of arsenic. Even though the ash has elevated levels of some metals, it was not classified as a hazardous waste and could be disposed of at the regional Fort McMurray Landfill.

What were the results of Phase 2 soil-sample testing?

In total, 62 soil samples and 136 ash samples were collected. The results were compared against established Alberta ecological and human health guidelines (Alberta Tier 1) and against human health guidelines (Alberta Tier 2). None of the soil samples in any area — burned or unburned — exceeded human health guidelines.

Ash samples showed that the ash was caustic and had concentrations of heavy metals and other chemicals typical of fires that contained man-made items. To minimize the risk of blowing ash, tackifier was sprayed, and some residents had a delayed re-entry to allow for the clean-up of ash.

There are cases where ecological guidelines were exceeded but these have no impact on human health. The results of this testing is available through the Government of Alberta’s Environmental Monitoring in Fort McMurray webpage Environmental Mentoring Fort McMurray website.

What will Phase 3 soil-sample testing consist of?

This testing is assessing the levels of contaminants of potential concern for human and ecological health following remedial activities post-wildfire, including demolition and debris removal. This will allow us to understand if there was any contaminant migration during the clean up of our community.

Where will Phase 3 testing be done?

The testing will be completed in close proximity to areas tested in Phase 1 and 2.

Why is the Municipality, in partnership with the GOA, conducting this testing?

This testing allows the Municipality and the GOA, to understand the extent of the soil quality may impact human and ecological health, and will help support the decisions being made for future remediation or redevelopment in areas of Wood Buffalo affected by the wildfire.

When will Phase 3 sampling be completed?

Sampling will begin in January 2017 and be completed in early February.

When can we expect to see Phase 3 results? and Where will they be posted?

The results are expected to be received in April 2017 and will be posted Environmental Mentoring Fort McMurray.

How can I compare my private soil-sample results to those completed by the Municipality?

All soil sample results, whether completed publicly or privately, should be tested at minimum against the Alberta Tier 2 standards for ecological and human health guidelines.

The data from ash and soil monitoring is available through the Government of Alberta’s web page for environmental monitoring in Fort McMurray at the Alberta Environmental Mentoring website.

What is firebreak?

A firebreak is essentially a natural or man-made obstacle to help prevent the spread of fire, such as a strip of open space in a forest or road. In the municipal surface area, urban firebreaks have been created in several key neighbourhoods by minimizing or removing fire fuel sources such as trees.

How many firebreaks are there?

There are numerous firebreak zones within the Fort McMurray urban surface area [see map]. Altogether they represent nearly 30 kilometres of fireguard to protect neighbourhoods deemed to be at risk for fire

Why is this important?

The Firebreak Drainage Improvement Project reduces public safety hazards or risk of property damage. It is important to do the drainage improvements now before freeze-up and minimize further issues during spring melt.

What issue is being addressed through this project?

An assessment of the 30 kilometres of firebreaks within the urban service area of Fort McMurray identified more than 100 sites having water drainage issues created during tree and vegetation removal. The drainage issues are significant as they create a safety hazard or elevated risk for damaging neighbouring private property. Drainage issues include:

  • Low lying areas created by tree clearing activities
  • Ponding of water run-off due to increased run-off from lack of vegetation
  • Obstructions created by tree clearing activities at existing drainage pathways

What will the work involve and not involve?

Grading and sloping will start in Timberlea along the Birchwood Trails, and then north of Confederation Way and Abasand which is to be completed by end of 2017.

Hazardous Tree Removal

When was the work for the hazardous tree removal program completed?

On the weekend of Sept. 17, 2016, high priority trees were removed in the a few locations with full work beginning Sept. 21. The program was completed in its entirety in October.

What was completed as part of the hazardous tree removal program?

The scope of work included burned trees that were fallen, trees with burned roots that are leaning but haven’t fallen, and trees that are partially burned near the base and have little to no structural support and are at risk of falling.

What neighbourhoods are expected to be part of the hazardous tree removal, and where in these neighbourhoods were trees removed?

The neighbourhoods included as part of the hazardous tree removal were Thickwood, Abasand, Beacon Hill, Waterways and Lower Townsite.

Burned trees were removed that pose a safety hazard along perimeter trails, roadways, municipal property, park infrastructure and in burned neighbourhoods within the urban service area of Fort McMurray

Storm & Sewer

Is the cost of obtaining a utility connect permit waived following Council’s recent motion?

Yes, the cost of obtaining this permit is waived. Residents are encouraged to ensure their contractor is not building in this fee.

Why are contractors required to ensure the proper reconnection of sewer and storm pipes?

This is required to prevent cross connections (e.g. sanitary pipes tied into a storm drain, or vice versa).

Why do sewer lines sometimes have blockages?

There are many reasons why blockages occur. For example: the buildup of grease, tree roots or foreign objects. In addition, there may be debris that entered the lines while fighting the fire or the pipe may have been damaged during demo and rebuild of a structure.

What could happen if the blockages are not dealt with properly?

Blocked or damaged sewer services could result in the sewer backing up into a homeowner’s property. Clean-up and remediation can be time consuming and costly.

What do I do if a catch-basin smells?

Report it to the Municipality by calling the PULSE Call Line and it will be investigated to determine the cause, which may be from possible cross-connection.

Why are repairs to damaged curb stops the responsibility of the home owner?

Any current damages existing to curb stops that have occurred as a result of the demolition or rebuilding and are therefore, the home owner’s responsibility to repair.

Red Cross & Financial Assistance

What assistance is available for local businesses affected by the fire and where can I get more information?

Support is available for local businesses at the Back to Business Resource Centre, which has various services such as:

  • Business expertise available on site, including funding information
  • Ask an Expert networking events
  • Coaching programs
  • Office space available for use, with printers, fax, computers and boardroom

For more information, visit Economic Development website.

Can anything be done to expedite appointments with the Red Cross?

Unfortunately, the Municipality cannot expedite appointments with the Red Cross.

If you wish to book an appointment, call the Red Cross at 1-888-553-5505.

Please note walk-in appointments are taking place at the Hardin Street Building (9816 Hardin St.) until further notice. Walk-ins are seen based on most urgent need and appointments are not guaranteed at the time of visit.

Insurance

Is my insurance company allowed to lower my coverage without my verbal or written consent?

Insurance companies need to go through a specific progress to lower your coverage without your request to do so. That is by way of registered mail, and they must inform you with a minimum of 15 days’ notice.

For more information, call a consumer information officer with the Insurance Bureau of Canada at 1-844-227-5422.

I am having issues with my insurance adjuster. Who do I talk to?

Residents experiencing issues with their insurance adjuster are encouraged to contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) at fortmacfire@ibc.ca or call IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-227-5422.

Alternatively, residents can meet with a local IBC representative at the Back to Business Resource Centre at the Hardin Street Building (9816 Hardin St.) and is available Monday to Friday, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. There is no need to make an appointment. It is recommended you come with questions and any applicable documents for assistance.

More Information

For additional questions, call the PULSE Call Line.

Last updated: Feb. 15, 2017

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