The RMWB is starting the dialogue with homeowners in multiple flood-prone areas around buyouts.
Wood Buffalo council held a special meeting on Tuesday where they approved having administration start direct engagement with residents in Draper, Ptarmigan Court, and those under 250 metres in Waterways, and Longboat Landing.
They are looking at options to continue flood mitigation work in downtown and TaigaNova Eco-Industrial Park.
Councillor Mike Allen says it’s important homeowners understand this isn’t a final decision.
“This is not a signal that you’re getting bought out or there’s expropriation, this is a signal that we’re coming to have that discussion and do what’s right for as many as we can in individual circumstances.”
Over 20 residents took the time to speak during the meeting.
Many expressed concerns over the idea of proposed buyouts with some stating they didn’t want to move from their neighbourhood, while others claimed they would take a big financial hit as market values have dropped.
“After the fire and the decision was made by the RMWB to stay and rebuild Waterways back, I invested more of my time, my money, my energy, my frustration, my tears, my sweat, my everything into this house so hopefully one day it would be worthwhile enough to sell,” said Jessica Rejman.
Although it would be hard, she claims she would potentially take a buyout, however, she doesn’t believe the municipality should consider a single option for each neighbourhood.
She was one of several who asked for more personal engagement rather than online survey options to get a real picture of how residents are feeling.
“I’ve heard that one person can vote on a phone, laptop, and tablet multiple times a day. When you’re ready to get us properly represented, do a proper hand ballot vote.”
Some of the residents also spoke in favour of a buyout.
Longboat Landing was the most represented during the meeting with many asking to be considered alongside the other three areas where buyouts are options.
“We’re at the junction of two rivers and we’re right next to and similar to Draper, Waterways, and Ptarmigan Court,” added Christina Healy. “If these areas are bought out because they’re not safe places to live then Longboat is also not a safe place to live.”
Council also passed having administration look directly into the costs of buying out all properties in Longboat Landing under 250 metres, at the possibility of lifting all properties in Draper, and if it’s possible to increase the level of flood mitigation from one in a hundred-year flood to one in a 250-year flood.
Meanwhile, a separate motion from Councillor Keith McGrath was also approved.
Administration is now being tasked to start discussions with the Oil Sands Community Alliance about a potential flood mitigation project with help from industry.
A progress report on all motions and discussions is slated to be presented on September 15, 2020.