The Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee will be done in roughly six weeks.
At Tuesday night’s council meeting, Mayor Melissa Blake brought up a motion which would eliminate the committee and give their responsibility to council. They voted 6-2 in favor with only Councillors Phil Meagher and Sheldon Germain opposed.
Councillors Jane Stroud, Claris Voyageur, and Julia Cardinal were all absent.
“I still believe absolutely that recovery in the community is going to extend for a period of time, whether it’s five years or later than that it doesn’t matter how long it takes,” said Mayor Blake. “I think the ultimate responsibility for governance still resides with council, every decision or recommendation that comes from the committee has to be passed by council and my optimism is that we will move things that are so important to getting people back home more quickly.”
Councillor Tyran Ault shared the same view as the mayor. He says he’s not a fan of any committee.
“We were elected to make decisions around this horseshoe, my colleagues know I’ve wanted to end every committee because it slows down the process and I feel like this has slowed down the process.”
“All I’ve heard from the last ten months is the committee is useless, there in it for themselves, recovery has been slowing things down,” added Ault, talking about opinions he’s heard from different residents.
However, all the residents who spoke were all in support of keeping the committee. Their arguments ranged from timing, relationship with the committee to concerns over the mental well-being of people.
Resident Arianna Johnson was vocal over her concerns for the mental health of people who may have been caught off-guard by the motion.
“This committee was built for trust and safety for those of us who are trying to get back to some sort of normal,” added Johnson. “We are a week away from a year later and this whole discussion is doing more damage than it is good.”
The WBRC’s last day will be June 11. Their last meeting will be June 7, being the first Wednesday of the month.
The Recovery Task Force will remain untouched, they will now report directly to council.
“I think there needs to be a new norm when it comes to recovery,” added Mayor Blake.