Council Chooses Continuing Flood Mitigation Over Buyouts in Waterways

Buyouts won’t be offered to Waterways property owners at this time.

Wood Buffalo council voted in favour on Thursday to finish creating the berm in the neighbourhood by October 2022.

Councillor Verna Murphy was the only one to vote against – instead wanting to see the RMWB conduct one-on-one meetings with each property – while Councillors Keith McGrath, Mike Allen, and Jeff Peddle did not participate.

Administration had originally recommended offering buyouts for properties under 250 metres, however, several residents and the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce spoke out against the idea.

“If Waterways isn’t afforded the same protection the other regions are getting… you’re essentially degrading the value of the community and clearly showing us residents that are so invested in this community that we’re less worthy of being protected,” said Alex McKenzie, Waterways resident.

Staying in the neighbourhood was also not a consensus thought.

During the RMWB’s open houses held over the summer, multiple residents spoke in favour of buyouts with others also agreeing if the payment was a fair price.

Because of this, administration will continue to look into the idea of potential land swaps. The main problem, the government of Alberta owns the undeveloped land, specifically in Parsons Creek, with the RMWB unable to get an agreement at this time.

However, Mayor Don Scott notes he wants people to continue to stay in the neighbourhood.

“I do want people to stay in this region and I believe buyouts are just a technique of saying goodbye to people.”

The RMWB estimates the costs to continue flood mitigation in the area to be around $24 million. The berm will also be raised to cover a one-in-200 year flood.

Meanwhile, development will also be limited under 250 metres in Waterways with enhanced flood provisions being introduced for development above 250 metres.

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