Security measures ramped up in Fort McMurray’s most devastated neighbourhoods

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On Thursday, the Regional Municipality of Wood Bufalo provided more details about new, enhanced security measures aimed at ensuring only residents and other approved visitors can access restricted areas.

The communities of Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways are considered to be the hardest-hit areas of Fort McMurray after a wildfire ripped through the area last month. They are considered restricted areas because high levels of toxins have been detected there rendering the area to be uninhabitable, at least for now.

READ MORE: Boil water advisory lifted for more areas of Fort McMurray after wildfire

People entering Abasand, Beacon Hill or Waterways must now provide government-issued photo identification that proves they live there. Visitors’ details will be recorded by an RCMP officer and people accompanying residents will also need to provide identification and sign in. Everyone entering a restricted area will also need to check out when they leave.

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Area residents will be given colour-coded wristbands once they sign in with a distinct colour designated for each restricted area.

The wristbands will provide streamlined access to the restricted area for future visits. Sign in/sign out will continue to be required for each trip. Each restricted area will have a distinct colour:

  • Abasand residents will receive orange wristbands
  • Beacon Hill residents will receive blue wristbands
  • Waterways residents will receive white wristbands

Currently, the only people being given access to restricted areas are residents, insurance adjusters, contractors, visitors with letters of permission and people accompanying residents.

Visits are allowed between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Municipal employees and contractors must have Regional Emergency Operations Centre tags with either a red or blue outline:

  • Contractors will receive green wristbands
  • Insurance adjusters will receive grey wristbands
  • Security guards will receive identification badges

Basic details of the new security requirements were first announced Wednesday night on Twitter by Bob Couture, director of the Regional Emergency Operations Centre.

“This band will be issued by security staff at the site and security staff on site will be members of the RCMP who will patrol your neighbourhood to keep it safe and secure.”

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READ MORE: Fort McMurray residents pack Wood Buffalo council chambers at heated meeting

On Tuesday evening, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo council met in Fort McMurray for the first time since the wildfire forced them out of the city. Hundreds of residents showed up, many of whom raised concerns about both the evacuation and recovery efforts.