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RMWB upgrading security measures in Abasand, Beacon Hill, Waterways

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
RMWB upgrading security measures in Abasand, Beacon Hill, Waterways

Residents of Abasand (pictured above) and Beacon Hill could return home soon // Chris Vandenbreekel - Harvard Broadcasting

Concerns from residents of Fort McMurray’s hardest-hit neighbourhoods have been heard.

RMWB Emergency Management Director Bob Couture announced in a brief video update Wednesday evening that security was being revamped in the areas after complaints about inadequate measures.

Couture said residents would be issued with wristbands, colour-coded to which neighbourhood they live in. The wristbands will be issued at the security checkpoints into Abasand, Beacon Hill, and Waterways after ID has been verified.

Couture added that private security would be replaced by RCMP officers to ensure the proper measures are taken. The officers will also be patrolling the neighbourhoods to ensure unoccupied properties aren’t being taken advantage of.

The change comes after several emotional residents called into question whether security was working at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

“I forced my driver’s licence into the security guard’s hands,” said Arianna Johnson, an Abasand resident. “And he didn’t want to take it. He didn’t care to check.

“How is my home secure? How are you controlling anything when private security companies are letting anybody in?”

Council voted 9-2 to pass a bylaw to control access to the neighbourhoods beyond June 30 when the provincial state of emergency is set to be lifted. Fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 can be levied against non-residents found in the areas between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Councillors Meagher and McGrath voted against the measure, calling it “draconian” in nature. The bylaw will be reviewed after six weeks to determine whether it should be adjusted, or if it should expire.

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