Residents of the Waterways neighbourhood were scheduled to return to their homes beginning Monday, Oct. 24. This stage of re-entry after the wildfire is considered Phase 2A.
All 31 standing homes, as well two commercial structures, are cleared and ready to be inhabited.
It’s been nearly seven months since a massive blaze forced the entire municipality to evacuate.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) believes the health of the residents should always remain the first priority.
“My recommendations to enable residents to re-enter and re-occupy some areas of Waterways were made after a thorough review of the municipality’s Phase 2A re-entry plan,” Dr. Karen Grimsrud said.
“The municipality has worked to develop a comprehensive plan to protect the safety and well-being of those residents returning to their homes in Waterways. I would like to remind residents to keep health top of mind for themselves, their families and their neighbours as your community moves forward with rebuilding.”
Substantial demolition and the presence of multiple risk mitigation measures to protect the returning residents were put in before the move.
A lot of the residences in Waterways were modular homes, which resulted in a lower volume of ash and debris needing to be cleared.
Also, the fact that modular homes are typically placed on above-ground concrete pads or pilings has made the average clean-up time for properties in Waterways between one and two days.
“I’d like to share our gratitude to our returning Waterways residents for their continued patience and resilience,” Jeanette Bancarz, chair of the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee, said. “Alongside the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services, we are very happy to welcome you home. We continue to work hard on behalf of all Wood Buffalo residents, especially those who have yet to be able to return home in Beacon Hill and Abasand.”
An information centre will be open at the Royal Canadian Legion on Huggard Street in Waterways from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday.
The remaining standing homes in Abasand and Beacon Hill will be open for re-entry after demolition is completed, which will be part of Phase 2B.