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Fort McMurray Wildfire Updates, Resources, and Information
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Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) Updates


RMWB Public Information Sessions

Every Thursday, 4:00–8:00 p.m., Shell Place at MacDonald Island Park

These trade-show style sessions represent groups such as the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee, the Wood Buffalo Recovery Task Force, the municipality’s Public Affairs department, and a wide variety of stakeholder groups—including but not limited to IBC, the Red Cross, the government of Alberta, and Alberta Health Services.

RMWB Demolition Permit Information Package, Checklists, and Application Form

  • Site Cleanup Plan Guidelines
  • FAQs: Waste Management after the Fire
  • FAQs: Demolition Fencing
  • Demolition Permit Application Checklist
  • Hazards Checklist
  • Demolition Permit Application Form

Download the package.

RMWB Fencing during Construction and Demolition

While site fencing for public protection is required for all permits where activities involving demolition and construction, the actual fencing requirements and what activities and situations require this protection are not specifically listed in these permits. The information provided below seeks to clarify to property owners and contractors what the requirements of the Alberta Building Code, the Safety Codes Act, and the Permit Conditions are, and how the RMWB Safety Codes officers will be enforcing these requirements.

Download the document.

RMWB Council Agrees to Compensation Approach for Firebreak Homes

As part of the efforts to stop the progress of the wildfire that tore through Fort McMurray in May, privately owned homes, garages and other property were bulldozed to create a firebreak.

On October 11, the RMWB Council agreed to adopt several approaches suggested by the Wood Buffalo Recovery Task Force and RMWB Administration to address compensation for the properties affected by the firebreak. The following is an outline of the recommended approach, excerpted from the attached full RMWB council report:

  1. Firebreak property owners will submit a claim, if they have not already done so, to their residential insurer (residential insurance).
  2. If the firebreak property owners are uninsured or under-insured, they will submit the details of their claim to the municipality’s Insurance Services Department, and the Insurance Services Department will submit the claim to its Municipal Insurer.
  3. The municipality will work collaboratively with its municipal Insurer and request that the insurer provide a timely, formal position on whether the municipality’s policy will compensate firebreak property owners for the damage or destruction to their property.
  4. If the municipal insurer does not compensate the firebreak property owners in a timely manner, the municipality will work with the Disaster Recovery Program (DRP) to develop a financial assistance program for firebreak property owners for council’s consideration.
  5. 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.

See the Fire Break Council report.

Waterways Rebuilding Approved

In the October 4 RMWB Council meeting, the municipality discussed its outreach to the government of Alberta for assurance that "wildfire victims who choose to rebuild in the flood hazard zone of Waterways will be eligible for relief under the Disaster Recovery Program, if they suffer flood damage before the Municipality has completed design and construction of a provincially approved 1:100 year flood protection solution— even if they rebuild without any special flood proofing measures."

The council report briefing note stated that, “This assurance has now been received in writing from the Government of Alberta. Accordingly, Administration recommends that Council proceed with enactment of Bylaw 16/021 to lift the restrictions on development in Waterways that were imposed by Bylaw 13/032,” subject to certain conditions. View the minutes, which are generally available a few days after each meeting, for a detailed look at the issue.

A public information session is to be held Thursday, October 13, 2016, regarding the council's decision to rebuild in Waterways.



Debris Removal

Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Demolition Orders

Deadline Extension for Debris Removal

Understanding that some residents may have encountered delays in their plans, the RMWB has extended the deadline from September 30 if work has started. Specifically, if there is evidence of stockpiling and removal of steel on the property on September 30, the Municipality will assume that cleanup has started and will take steps to complete the work only if clean up remains unfinished by October 17. Owners are urged to contact their insurance representative to formalize the details of their cleanup if they haven’t already. Those who are under-insured or not insured should contact the Canadian Red Cross at 1-888-553-5505 for assistance or visit their office in the Future Forward Building at 9816 Hardin Street. Owners should also confirm completion dates with their contractor to make sure the Municipality’s deadlines are met.

Visit the Specialized Property Evaluation Control Services Ltd. (SPECS) website at https://www.specs.ca/blog/fort-mcmurray-demolition or contact SPECS toll-free at 1‑888‑664‑2040 or email fortmcmurray@specs.ca.

Debris Removal Permits

Visit the RMWB website at http://www.rmwb.ca/News-Room/RMWB-Wildfire-Information/Rebuilding-the-Community/Demolition-Permitting.htm or call the RMWB at 1-800-973-9663.

City Clears Remaining Lots

The RMWB estimates there are close to 70 lots in the city that need clearing but whose owners have not yet secured permits. IBC has learned that the city has hired five contractors to ensure these sites are cleared and backfilled (if required) by the end of October. It’s not known at this time if any of these homes are insured.

Progress

Coordinated Demolition Program Update, Fort McMurray, November 2, 2016
Coordinated Demolition Program Update, Fort McMurray, October 7, 2016
Coordinated Demolition Program Update, Fort McMurray, September 30, 2016
Coordinated Demolition Program Update, Fort McMurray, September 23, 2016
Coordinated Demolition Program Update, Fort McMurray, August 22, 2016

New Municipal Tool Monitors Permits and Construction

On September 30, the RMWB launched Wood Buffalo Civic Insight, a mobile-friendly tool that allows residents to view and monitor permitting and new construction activities in their neighbourhood. Residents can view detailed permitting, demolition, and construction progress, including dates and the current status of permits (i.e., applied, reviewed, issued, inspected, or finalized) by inputting a street name or address, or by clicking on an address. The tool also provides workflow checks each month in addition to daily, weekly and monthly permit volumes.

Residents can sign up for alerts, which offer up-to-date information about what’s happening with their property or other properties in their neighbourhood. Note that some information on permit approvals prior to 2012 may be incomplete, and users need to contact RMWB Planning and Development to review the Property file.

Temporary Housing Available for Displaced Residents

See the attached document explaining the eligibility criteria for the housing and details about the arrangements. The province will be moving up to 65 housing units from Slave Lake to Fort McMurray, beginning in mid-October, to support local families.

Winter Safety for the Construction Community

From October 15–April 15, all residential neighbourhoods have been divided into five Winter Maintenance Zones, one for each weekday. Signage will be posted in each zone showing which day of the week residential on-street parking will be banned so winter maintenance will be performed. Areas damaged by fire, including Abasand, Beacon Hill, and Waterways, will also be part of the program. See the attached document.

Review of Emergency Response Planned

The Alberta government announced yesterday it will initiate an independent review of the emergency response to the Fort McMurray wildfire. The review will examine the provincial support provided to the municipality, the evacuation of communities, and the emergency social services for evacuees to determine what went well and where there are areas of improvement. The May wildfire marks the third major disaster in Alberta in the last five years. The reports from the 2011 Slave Lake fire and the 2013 southern Alberta floods are posted publicly on the Alberta government website.

A request for proposals has been issued to select an appropriate contractor to conduct the review into the fire in the RMWB. The report is expected to be complete next summer. This review is separate from the review Agriculture and Forestry announced in June that will examine the wildfire preparation, readiness and response to the 2016 fire.

Communications Engagement

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) continues to monitor a few flare-ups of unhappy claimants on Facebook and is working directly with Facebook group participants to offer solutions and remind them of the many channels they can use to access insurance information, including the four-hour forum the RMWB hosts every Thursday night.

Soil testing recently emerged as an issue in another social media thread. Some homeowners suggested that soil testing was not done properly by the RMWB. One homeowner conducted a separate test, through a third party, and said that the results indicated contamination. Homeowners on the thread suggested that they start a petition or legal action against the municipality and that insurers should cover the cost of additional soil testing. IBC explained to the group that soil is typically not covered by home insurance, although trees, shrubs, and plants may be covered. The RMWB has stepped in and is working directly with residents to resolve the matter. No additional insurance references or threads have surfaced.

Fridge and Freezer Collection

The fridge and freezer collection program is over. Residents must make their own arrangements to dispose of these appliances appropriately. These items will not be picked up at the curbside. The RMWB landfill is accepting residential waste brought by residents in private-passenger vehicles free of charge until October 31. Remediation contractors can bring these items to the local landfill for a small fee. The landfill is currently open 24/7.

IBC Bulletins

To receive these bulletins, please contact memberservices@ibc.ca.

If you have any questions, please contact the IBC staff listed below.

Government Relations
Bill Adams, Vice-President, Western and Pacific
587-337-2030

Communications
Sally Turney, Vice-President, Communications
647-966-8901

Andrew Bartucci, Manager, Digital Communications and Social Media
416-201-1573

Andrew McGrath, Manager, Media Relations
416-550-9062

Insurance Industry Claims Liaisons
Rob de Pruis
587-337-3200

David Johnson
587-337-4864

Ft. McMurray Wildfire - IBAA Response
Member brokers of the Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta (IBAA) are here to help during the current wildfire situation in the Fort McMurray area. Evacuees may need advice on what to do and how to get through this crisis. If you are one of them, here are some tips to help get you started. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected.
IBAA CEO George Hodgson at Edmonton Emergency Relief

Managing the Crisis

Insurance Claims and Contacts

To Offer Support

  • Monetary donations can be made directly to the Red Cross. Log onto the Red Cross website at www.redcross.ca.
     
  • Several organizations are collecting goods (food, supplies, etc.) for distribution. Check and listen to the media for frequent updates.
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