Full buyouts are being recommended for three flood-prone properties around Fort McMurray.
Wood Buffalo council met on Tuesday where they were given an update on flood mitigation and a recent survey where residents were given a chance to share their thoughts.
While no decision was made, administration is suggesting the best course of action for Draper, Ptarmigan Court, and the section of Waterways below 250 metres is to move forward with buyouts.
Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Matthew Hough says these recommendations were made before getting feedback from the public, however, it seems residents think this is also the best option.
“Regardless of the approach eventually chosen by council, residents are telling us they are open to non-structural approaches like curbing or ending development as well as land swaps and buyouts.”
According to the public survey, which saw over 860 residents took part with around half currently living or working in one of the areas, 76 per cent of respondents noted they supported an end to development in all flood-prone areas.
Around 62 per cent also agreed with buyouts with another eight per cent requiring more information before making a decision.
Adminstration’s flood report suggests full buyouts in Draper would cost around $60 million, approximately $14 million in Ptarmigan court, and around $25.5 million for the homes under the 250m mark in Waterways.
Hough notes these numbers aren’t 100 per cent final.
“Additional assessments would certainly be required and what is a reasonable amount to compensate a property owner has yet to be determined.”
In total, 261 properties would be impacted.
As for downtown and Taiga Nova Eco-Industrial Park, administration is recommending to continue flood mitigation work.
Specifically for Taiga Nova, they suggest constructing new flood mitigation, enhance existing berms, and limit development below 250m. The downtown core would also be restricted from developing below 250m.
The cost to buy out all properties in these areas is too expensive – around $463 million for Taiga Nova and around $1.9 billion in downtown. It’s expected to cost around $95 million to continue flood mitigation work.
Meanwhile, if buyouts are approved by council in Waterways, Draper, and Ptarmigan Court, there’s a chance we could see some change to flood mitigation in the areas.
“I think the most significant one would be whether or not we proceed with reaches 10 and 11 that would protect Waterways. Reach 10 and 11 would see that section of Saline Creek Parkway raised and would act as both the start of our egress road and the berm.”
Originally, council was set to make a final decision in the fall, however, they have now scheduled a special meeting on July 28.
A town hall is slated to take place on Monday, July 20 at 6 p.m. while other engagement sessions are being scheduled to allow the public a chance to share their input beforehand.