The current firebreak rehabilitation project is moving forward as is.
On Tuesday, Wood Buffalo council decided to keep 30 metres of cleared land behind at-risk homes.
All trees in these areas will now be removed and the land will be graded, have topsoil and be seeded.
Speaking on Fort McMurray Matters, Mayor Don Scott says this will increase the safety for residents.
“The idea is to protect the community, we want to make sure if another fire event were to happen in this region, heaven forbids, that we’re as protected as possible.”
Scott says they need to move forward now to make sure the areas are clear of any potential fuels.
“It was very contentious but as a whole, council decided we must move forward with this.”
Council also delayed any encroachment work for 90 days to allow more time to review the situation with impacted residents.
A Sense of Disappointment Over Privacy
Residents living on Killdeer Way and Killdeer Place in Eagle Ridge filled the council chambers on Tuesday, hoping for a solution for all of their concerns.
This included privacy, drainage, erosion, and off-highway-vehicle.
“I’m not disappointed they’re moving ahead with the project, we had no intentions of holding up the project,” said Keith Janzen. “I’m just disappointed we can’t let common sense prevail.”
Jansen believes fire smart activities would have been more effective than an entire firebreak.
“The fire jumped a 600 metres wet natural firebreak and continued to burn on the other side of the Athabasca River, 30 metres is going to do nothing to protect anybody’s home back there.”
“I don’t understand the logic in putting up a firebreak and being able to park airplanes behind my house, I don’t get it.”
On June 21, the Recovery Task Force met with residents whose properties back onto a firebreak. There they outlined the scope of the project and listened to peoples concerns.
Janzen says they feel like nothing they brought to the table was ever considered.
“They didn’t take any of our interests at heart.”
Meanwhile, Scott notes they’re continuing to look at possible solutions. This could lead to hedges being put behind their properties and working with bylaw officers to make sure people don’t use the firebreak for any means.