The delay in creating the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee & Task Force is pushing back discussions over the fate of Waterways.
In a press conference today, Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee was asked whether a decision had been made on the neighbourhood.
“Recognizing that not knowing is very difficult,” she said. “We’re fully committed to making that decision as soon as possible once we have the opportunity to work more closely with the recovery task force that comes out of the municipality.”
The bylaw that would create the municipal body passed second reading on Tuesday night with a 9-2 vote. However third reading was delayed until next week’s meeting when Mayor Melissa Blake and Councillor Jane Stroud voted against consideration for the reading, a vote which needs to be unanimous.
Blake commented on Tuesday night saying that she hadn’t had proper time to review amendments to the bylaw made by Councillor Keith McGrath just before debate on the topic.
“Putting the extra duration of a week in will give me time to reflect on what those elements are and if they are going to serve the citizens in the best way,” she said after the meeting.
Councillor Stroud had voted against third reading in protest of a sub-section that would provide councillors with raises from $32,000 to $75,000 for part-time councillors and $150,000 for the councillors that would be made full-time by the committee creation.
The move frustrated many of the councillors who voted in favour.
“To not support third reading is disrespectful to the nine members who voted in favour of this bylaw,” Councillor Allan Vinni said.
Councillors Tyran Ault and Lance Bussieres also lamented the result, calling it “embarrassing” in front of the hundreds of residents who showed up for the meeting.
Questions surfaced about whether Waterways would be rebuilt since the fire destroyed 90% of the community. The Government of Alberta has placed a ban on development in floodplains, but the neighbourhood had an exemption due to being a pre-existing community.
Minister Larivee noted Friday that the province is committed to acting in the “best interests of the people of Fort McMurray.”