In what’s being called a “win, win” council is approving buyouts and rebuilds for 14 properties in Waterways.
On Tuesday, they voted in favor of buying out 10 properties and allowing four others to rebuild. This comes after some of the property owners expressed their desire to rebuild back on their lots.
Councillor Phil Meagher tells Mix News he believes work can be done in the area to make sure it’s safe for these property owners.
“All the land in Fort McMurray is moving, land is moving all around the earth, but I think with the right mediation, drainage we can mediate that.”
Each property owner will need to do their own geotechnical assessment and follow all the recommendations on the report before they can get a development permit.
Resident Philip Jean was in support of allowing rebuilds. His mother Frances, along with his brother Brian, own two of the properties which were given permission to build on.
Jean says the family was ready for legal action if council forced them into a buyout.
“Unless it was for a school, hospital or an interchange, something of dire importance to the community, they do not have the right to take personal property away, that’s their property, they should be able to buy, sell, sit on it, live on it, do whatever they want with it.”
Jean’s views weren’t shared by the majority of the property owners. Resident Najwa Karamujic was hoping for a buyout, needing the mandatory acquisition to avoid complications with her insurance company.
She says council’s decision is making her rethink her decision and possibly try and rebuild back on her lot.
“If the municipality is going to put in all the mitigation factors for four homes then you might as well do it for the rest.”
However, she notes with the potential safety risks, this was a huge mistake by council.
“The engineers from both ends have both said if this was a new development that they would absolutely not be building on that land.”
Mayor Melissa Blake also believes this was a mistake saying she was very disappointed with her colleague’s decision.
“It’s not often that I’m unhappy with decisions one way or another but I’m quite unhappy because I think we set a precedent within a neighbourhood that is heartbreaking.”
If one of the owners decides they would rather rebuild then administration would come back to council with a notice of intent to expropriate.