Residents and municipal staff filled the council chambers for the first public meeting of the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee. The WBRC’s first duty as a newly formed committee was to name a chair and vice-chair.
Jeanette Bancarz, a long-time employee of ATB Financial and resident of Fort McMurray, was named the chair after fellow committee member Mark Hodson nominated her. She was the only person to be nominated by the committee.
Soon after Maggie Farrington, CEO of the Athabasca Tribal Council, was selected by the committee to be the vice-chair. She was also the only member nominated for the role, this time by Marty Giles.
“It surely is a privilege to be able to serve the community and be selected among my peers, I honestly just feel blesses to have been brought to Fort McMurray,” said Bancarz. “As the chair my biggest challenge is going to ensure that we engage in the community with our task force team to get the best understanding what the priorities are at the time.”
The committee also unanimously appointed Dana Woodworth as the interim Team Lead for the Wood Buffalo Recovery Task Force.
He is a former combat engineer with the Canadian Armed Forces and a recipient of the Meritorious Service Cross who he received from the Governor General of Canada. He also has experience with working on the aftermath of a natural disaster, helping with the 2011 recovery of Slave Lake after their fire.
After all the appointing of positions were done they got their first bit of an information update. A 600 page report was sent to the Chief Medical Officer about the possibility of re-entry for homeowners in Abasand and Beacon Hill. The CMO has sent multiple questions back but the municipality has since sent them answers and our hoping for an answer as soon as tomorrow.
“Hopefully 14 to 21 days from now we will at least, not necessarily move into those areas, but at least have a plan so residents have an idea,” said committee member Marty Giles.
Both areas are being put into re-entry phase one which is hoping to start soon after the report back from the CMO. For citizens interested in the recovery process of Waterways, that area is set to be included in phase two.
“The issues in Waterways are more complicated so it’s still good for our citizens to know that it’s still happening,”said Giles reminding citizens that Waterways hasn’t left their mind.
Along with Waterways they are trying to show residents that they have not forgot about Anzac, Stone Creek, Saprae Creek and other damaged areas.
The next committee meeting has been set for August 17th at 6:00 p.m.