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FAQ: Re-entry of Standing Homes

Ask Your Own Question

Following are some answers to frequently asked questions about Phase 1 of the Green Zone Re-entry process in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. If you have a question that is not answered below, you can ask your own question and a representative from the RMWB will respond to you as soon as possible.

Re-entry

When does re-entry begin for Phase 2A homes?

10 a.m. on Monday, October 24, 2016.

How many homes are included in Phase 2A of re-entry?

31 homes and two commercial structures.

How many green homes were included in Phase 1 of re-entry?

439 in Abasand and Beacon Hill, combined.

How do I know if I can return home?

If you own a standing home anywhere in Waterways, you can return.

If you own a standing home in Beacon Hill or Abasand, you can view maps and a list of all addresses that were able to re-enter as part of Phase 1:

All remaining standing homes that are not listed in Phase 1 will be re-entered in Phase 2B. Phase 2B will start after the completion of hazardous material clean-up, which is anticipated to finish by October 31, 2016.

My home is cleared for re-entry, but I don’t feel safe going home yet. What are my options?

If you own a green home but do not feel safe returning home, contact your insurance provider to discuss options. If you need help having a discussion about continuing Additional Living Expense or other insurance support, contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422) or FortMacFire@ibc.ca. You can also contact the Canadian Red Cross for information about financial assistance that is available to you. Call 1-888-553-5505 to book an appointment or visit their office at 9816 Hardin Street.

Can my friends visit me if I return to my home?

Yes. There are no restrictions on entry and exit to any Phase 1 or Phase 2A home.

How do I know it is safe?

Extensive safety mitigation measures have been put in place in collaboration with the Municipality and Government of Alberta, which have shown the Chief Medical Officer of Health that it is safe for standing homes in the Phase 2 green zones of Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways to return. These measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Restoration of medical services for residents
  • Forest and structural ash clearing
  • Double tackifier application to destroyed homes
  • Restoration of potable water
  • Signage at and near construction areas
  • Designated haul routes for demolition contractors
  • Perimeter fencing around all impacted neighborhoods
  • Environmental monitoring of ash and soil
Which areas are still restricted?

Heavily damaged areas of Beacon Hill and Abasand remain restricted to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. access for residents until debris removal is complete. Standing homes in these areas will re-enter in Phase 2B, after the completion of hazardous material removal.

I have a standing home that is not included in Phase 1 or Phase 2A of re-entry, can I go home?

The CMOH recommendation to restrict certain areas of Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways still stands due to the high concentration of fire damage and debris. You still have access to your home from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

My home is standing. Why isn’t it on the map?

Re-opening homes for occupation was determined by their proximity to the debris field, debris removal activities and mitigation steps to ensure a safe re-entry. Any standing homes that remain to be occupied after Phase 1 and Phase 2A will be re-entered in Phase 2B. Phase 2B will start after the completion of hazardous material clean-up, which is anticipated to finish by October 31, 2016.

What do I do with my fridge?

The municipal landfill is accepting residential waste, including fridges and other large appliances, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at no charge to residents.

Do I have drinkable water in my home?

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has confirmed that water quality has been restored to a safe level to all water system users serviced by the Fort McMurray water treatment plant, including Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways. However, the water mains and service connections in several heavily damaged areas of Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways have not been flushed, do not have active water service and are currently out of service. These water mains and service connections are not in the “green homes” area.

Where can I go to get information when I re-enter my neighborhood?

Temporary Information Centres will be located in Abasand and Beacon Hill, as well as full-time at Future Forward.

Beacon Hill (Temporary)

  • Frank Lacroix Arena, 155 Beaconwood Road
  • Hours: Wednesday, Aug. 31, to Friday Sept. 2, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Abasand (Temporary)

  • Parking lot and greenspace of École Boréal, 312 Abasand Drive
  • Hours: Wednesday, Aug. 31, to Friday, Sept. 2, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Downtown (Permanent)

  • Future Forward, 9717 Franklin Avenue
  • Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
When will Phase 2 re-entry happen for those not included in this phase?

Standing homes that are not included in Phase 1 of re-entry will be able to re-enter after demolition and debris removal is completed.

How do I get my utilities connected when I return to my standing home?

Electricity service has been returned to the green zones. If you don’t have electricity, please check your main electric panel and breaker — a blownfuse or tripped breaker could be the cause. Simply moving any tripped switches to the ‘on’ position can restore electricity. If this doesn’t restore electricity to your home, please call the ATCO Electric 24/7 emergency outage line at 1-800-668-5506.

To restore gas service upon your return, contact the ATCO Gas Customer Assistance Centre at 310-5678. ATCO employees wearing company-issued photo identification will visit homes and businesses to do a natural gas safety inspection, relight natural gas appliances and ensure they are working properly. You must be at your home or business for AT CO to restore natural gas service and relight your appliances. There is no charge for this service.

ATCO representatives will also be present at the Information Centres in Abasand and Beacon Hill.

What’s next?

The Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee and Recovery Task Force are focused on three key goals for the near future:

  • Interim housing to meet the needs of displaced residents without medium-term accommodation.
  • Developing a re-entry plan for residents with standing homes.
  • Continuing to engage residents for their feedback to improve the recovery process and provide updates on key developments.

Public Infrastructure

Will I have access to the trails in my neighborhood?

Effective Aug. 24, 2016, the Municipality has re-opened a majority of the Birchwood Trails. Learn more about the status of other outdoor recreational facilities.

Are the parks and playgrounds in my community safe to use?

The playground structures and surface areas below (included in Phase 1 re-entry) in Abasand and Beacon Hill have been cleaned three times since the fire event. The RMWB Parks Department cleaned the structures twice with a Hotsy Pressure Washer which is a method of cleaning with high pressure using hot water.

They were also cleaned once by a contractor hired by the RMWB with soap and water. The play structures will be cleaned once with the Hotsy Pressure Washer prior to resident re-entry.

Play structures with gravel surface areas will have the gravel replaced and/or washed prior to residents returning.

Air monitoring devices (EBAM) have been placed in close proximity to the playstructures/recreation areas which would be open for the Phase 1 re-entry in Abasand and Beacon Hill.

What public infrastructure (e.g.: community centres, arenas) in my area will be open?
Will I have transit service when I return?

Residents of Abasand and Beacon Hill will have access to transit services upon return. New Transit schedules will be available soon on the Transit website.

Is Frank Lacroix Arena open for use?

Remediation has been completed on the Arena and it will be open for use by the public.

Are schools open in Abasand and Beacon Hill?

The three School Boards (Fort McMurray Catholic Schools, Fort McMurray Public School District, and L'école Boréal du Conseil Scolaire Centre-Nord) have chosen not to re-open in École Boréal School and Father Beauregard, located in Abasand, and Good Shepherd School and Beacon Hill School, located in Beacon Hill, for the 2016/17 school year. Alberta Health Services – Environmental Public Health has identified its proximity to burnt structures as a potential risk based on the likelihood of youth gathering in the areas surrounding the school. Please contact the School Districts for more information.

What will be done to rehabilitate the fire break areas in the trees near my home?

The Municipality is currently exploring options for the rehabilitation of fire break areas in these neighbourhoods.

Health and Safety

What is a pink placard?

Pink placards are notices placed on homes that are in front of/in back of damaged properties. These placards provide the resident the opportunity for an Alberta Health Services inspection of their property, given the close proximity to damaged homes. The placard will include contact information for Environment Public Health to schedule an inspection with a public health inspector, Pulse Line, Community Wellness Line and a statement explaining why a pink placard was received.

If I have a pink placard, can I go home?

Yes.

What is the AHS inspection which is provided for pink placard homes?

Inspections will be conducted on private homes, as requested by the homeowner, to assess homes for water damage and for general damage to building materials. They will also provide recommendations to the homeowner regarding suggested remediation (if necessary) following the inspection.

Why do I have a pink placard?

Pink placards will be placed on residences that are adjacent to destroyed properties. These placards provide residents with the opportunity for an Alberta Health Services inspection of their property, given the close proximity to damaged homes.

How do I know if my home has a pink placard?

Pink placards will be included in the re-entry booklets delivered to each Green Zone home, prior to Aug. 31, 2016. You can also visit rmwb.ca/ABW and view the Green Zone maps to see if your home is marked as a pink placard home.

What are the next steps for me if I have a pink placard on my home?

If you have a pink placard, you have the option to request an Alberta Health Services inspection of your property by a public health inspector. This inspection is not mandatory, it is only if you wish to have it completed.

Why is AHS offering inspections to homeowners?

AHS is offering home inspections to homeowners with a pink placard. Residents will receive a pink placard in the re-entry package delivered to their home before re-entry. If you did not receive a pink placard, you are not a pink placard home.

Is my garden safe to grow food in?

Testing has been done in the community gardens and results indicated that residents can safely plant a garden and consume food from that soil. If you wish to have your soil tested, contact your insurance provider to determine if environmental testing is included in your home insurance policy and how it could be used to test your garden.

What did the CMOH say to allow re-entry?

In close consultation between the Municipality, Alberta Health Services and the Government of Alberta, we have developed a comprehensive risk mitigation plan that allows for the safe re-entry of the 439 households. The new recommendations indicate the CMOH is confident safety mitigation measures are in place for these areas.

Why did it take so long for a decision to be made?

It was important to consider many factors in this plan, with your safety always being our main priority.

Will my children and pets be safe?

The safety of your children and pets have been a central part of this plan, which is why so many steps are in place to address potential risks.

I own a business in Abasand/Beacon Hill. How does this decision affect me?

If the business is in the re-entry area and deemed a green-building, the business owner would have the option to re-open their business if it was fit to do so. Ongoing supports are in place to proactively reach out to business owners to provide support where needed, visit ChooseWoodbuffalo.ca for more information. Support for small businesses is also available for the Red Cross by calling 1-800-418-1111.

What was the relationship between the municipal and provincial government and how did it impact the Green Homes plan?

The Municipality worked closely with Alberta Health Services and the Government of Alberta to develop this phased re-entry plan.

How can I get my property tested for toxicity levels?

It is recommended that you contact your insurance provider to determine what testing is covered under your policy, and then conduct testing to meet your needs.

How do I know my house is structurally sound and safe to enter?

A rapid damage assessment was conducted, to assess external safety of homes. Residents should inspect their property with their insurance adjusters should they have any concern about their home.

Will environmental monitoring continue in Abasand/Beacon Hill after re-entry and what kind of testing will be done?

Yes, monitoring is ongoing throughout the Fort McMurray area, the results of which can be viewed at wbea.org.

There are multiple forms of air quality monitoring in these neighbourhoods and across Fort McMurray.

SPECS Due Diligence Downwind Monitoring Program and Handheld Air Monitoring During Fire Debris Removal – this monitoring program gathers sampling during site activities. A baseline survey was established to allow for direct read equipment to be used for ongoing activities.

Temporary environment-proof beta-attenuation (EBAM) monitors operated by Alberta Environment and Parks and Wood Buffalo Environmental Association. These monitors will measure particulate matter (PM2.5) 24/7 and send notifications to Alberta Environment and Parks, Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services and the RMWB dedicated email for Phase 1 reentry if the Ambient Air Quality Objective for PM2.5 is exceeded. Monitors have been positioned in green spaces of communities where residents may gather.

You can view data from the monitors online.

Continuous air quality monitoring stations operated by the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association monitor ambient air quality conditions for the whole community of Fort McMurray. While these stations do not monitor local dust production, they can provide information about the general state of air quality and should conditions change, the information will be reviewed by RMWB to see if on-site demolition activities should be temporarily suspended. Data from these monitors are available on the WBEA website.

Playgrounds and public recreational areas will be monitored and assessed to ensure the facilities remain safe for use during demolition activities.

EBAM Air Monitoring system(s) will remain in place in Abasand and Beacon Hill for the duration of demolition cleanup. These monitors will measure particulate matter (PM2.5) every hour and send notifications to Alberta Environments and Parks, Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services and RMWB dedicated Phase 1 email (which is monitored by RMWB Re-entry project leads).

Municipal Parks staff will continue to provide regular maintenance services to the areas such as equipment safety inspections, garbage pickup, lawn maintenance, trail and parking lot maintenance.

Whom do I call if I have concerns about dust?

Residents are encouraged to call the PULSE Line at 780-743-7000.

Insurance

I am having problems with my insurance adjuster. Who do I talk to?

We encourage residents to contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada at fortmacfire@ibc.ca or contact IBC's Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422). Alternatively, residents can visit the Back to Business Resource Centre located at the Hardin Street Building (9816 Hardin Street) to make an appointment with an IBC representative each afternoon.

I do not want to go home but I am at risk of losing Additional Living Expense (ALE) from my insurer. What are my options?

We encourage residents to contact their insurance provider for more information on what the insurer is able to provide. Alternatively, residents are encouraged to contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada directly at fortmacfire@ibc.ca or contact IBC's Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422). You can also contact the Canadian Red Cross for information about financial assistance that is available to you. Call 1-888-553-5505 to book an appointment or visit their office at 9816 Hardin Street.

Rebuilding

I own a destroyed home in Abasand/Beacon Hill. Can I begin rebuilding now?

The rebuilding process is different for all properties. You should contact the Planning and Development at 780-799-8695 or email current.planning@rmwb.ca, or visit us at 309 Powder Drive, for specific questions related to your rebuild.

What measures are in place to ensure that contractors are behaving appropriately?

Ongoing enforcement is in place across all demolition and construction areas. If residents notice anything unacceptable, they can contact the Pulseline at 780-743-7000.

How do I report irresponsible contractors?

When possible make a note of the company name and license plate, this can be reported to the PULSE Line at 780-743-7000.

I can’t find a contractor to fix my home. Where should I look?

Choosing a contractor is a personal choice. Some options to identify a contractor would include your insurance adjuster or the Fort McMurray Construction Association.

Can I complete repairs on my home now?

Yes, repairs can be completed on any Phase 1 and Phase 2A homes. Repairs can be completed on a standing home not in the Phase 1 or Phase 2A green zone between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Where are the haul routes in my neighborhood?

Haul routes will be clearly identified throughout your neighbourhood. Thirty km/h speed limit on haul routes to avoid stirring up and spreading ash or dust, and loss of debris. Haul routes are indicated on the Phase 1 re-entry maps: [Abasand] [Beacon Hill]

Is there any danger as a result of demolition in my neighborhood?

All ongoing demolition is monitored by the contractor at the demolition site and debris will be wetted to reduce the risk of airborne particles. Playgrounds and recreational areas will be monitored regularly to ensure safety throughout the demolition process. EBAM Air Monitoring system(s) will remain in place in Abasand and Beacon Hill for the duration of demolition clean up - these monitors will measure particulate matter (PM2.5) every hour and send notifications to Alberta Environments and Parks, Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services and RMWB dedicated Phase 1 email (which is monitored by RMWB Re-entry project leads).

Does the new CMOH recommendations mean that conditions on redevelopment permits are lifted?

Only for the green homes, because Bylaw 16-011 remains in place.

Last updated: Oct. 21, 2016