“Coming on May 3, this is probably the best news that our community could have received.”
Those words coming from Jeanette Bancarz, Chair of the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee after hearing about the funds going towards the first step of the East Clearwater Highway.
On Wednesday, Premier Rachel Notley was in Fort McMurray to mark one year since the wildfire and evacuation. She mentioned the province is providing up to $5 million for the first step of the project.
“Our minister of transportation is working with the municipality to put together a feasible study and that is the first step and that work is underway,” added Notley.
Back in October, council set aside $5 million in their 2017 budget for pre-design.
An emotional Bancarz tells Mix News her initial shock from the announcement quickly turned to joy thinking about what the funds will help do for the community.
“I believe now with that $10 million, we can at least proceed with the pre-design so that is the first step and it’s the hardest step I would say and I think we’re on our way as a community to having a dangerous goods route and having an alternate egress route out of the community,” said Jeanette Bancarz, Chair of the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee.
Originally, the RMWB was asking for $10 million from the province, giving the project a total of $15 million. The highway itself is expected to cost around $1.5 billion.
Bancarz says funds for pre-design are roughly 10 per cent of the estimated cost of the project.
“I think $10 million can still give us the information we need to have that decision on what that route will look like.”
Committee member Marty Giles says the funds will be used to study the area, determine if they have the right location, discuss the project with Indigenous groups while conducting geotechnical reports, and environmental assessments.
He expects pre-design should take anywhere between 12 and 24 months to complete.