Mayor Melissa Blake is going to be commuting to Fort McMurray until the boil water advisory is over.
Blake told reporters in a media teleconference call Tuesday that her family made the decision to ensure the safety of her children.
“We don’t want to habitate in the area until we have the quality drinking water we had when we evacuated in the first place,” she said. “When I look at my young kids and I can’t trust them not to turn the water on and take a big drink, because that’s what they’re used to.”
Blake says they will be returning on re-entry to collect some necessities from their home that they wished they had before, and then returning to their temporary home so the children can finish school. The boil water advisory is expected to continue until near the end of June.
She says other families will likely make similar choices.
“If you’re living in a neighbourhood that has a significant burn result… you don’t want your kids being exposed to any of the dangers from playing in proximity,” Blake said.
Alberta Health Services and the RMWB are recommending that families with children under the age of seven stay back in the initial re-entry. Those with respiratory and pulmonary issues are also being advised to stay behind, along with those who require regular medical care and women who are more than 36 weeks pregnant.
These recommendations are due to the poor air quality expected, and the fact that the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre won’t be fully operational until June 15.
“Children and seniors are all more susceptible to that kind of impact in the environment,” Blake said. “Our encouragement is that if you can wait until things are closer to what your norm would be then that’d be a more comfortable time for you to return.”
The mayor did note that while there will be no screening process to ensure children aren’t returning to the city, she has confidence in parents.
“I think parents are highly responsible when it comes to their kids,” she said. “I trust that people will understand why the recommendations are what they are.”
Blake also acknowledged that some will be returning to work in the region in the near future but some won’t be ready to live in the community. She said she was sure that companies would find a way to “accommodate whatever the individual needs are of their employees.”