The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and the NDP government need to clear up red tape and road blocks and speed up the reconstruction of the fire damaged sections of Fort McMurray.
“While life is returning to normal for many of the citizens of Fort McMurray whose homes were not affected by the fire, those who lost their homes to the flames are being negatively impacted by slow decision-making, political turf wars and red tape,” said Wildrose Leader and Fort McMurray-Conklin MLA Brian Jean. “The provincial government and the local government need to have a sense of urgency equivalent to the pain and frustration felt by the displaced residents of Waterways, Abasand and Beacon Hill. The summer construction season is getting away from us and homeowners are getting frustrated. Operating at the speed of government just won’t cut it.”
It has been two months since residents were allowed to return to Fort McMurray. Reconstruction funded by insurance payouts should be well underway but instead the municipality, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Environment, and Alberta Municipal Affairs have all thrown up roadblocks and red tape in front of reconstruction.
Wildrose Shadow Minister for Emergency Response and Disaster Recovery Prasad Panda called on the Premier to ensure that provincial ministries who have a say in the reconstruction have top-level taskforces in place to make expedited decisions and to move provincial resources into place.
“The focus right now needs to be on all three levels of government working together to get the residents of Fort McMurray back in their communities, not coming up with excuses or red tape,” Panda said. “On June 21st I called for the red tape to be cleared and for reconstruction to begin right away, and I asked the province to remove roadblocks in rebuilding the three neighbourhoods destroyed by the fire. That hasn’t happened anywhere near fast enough.”
Wildrose is urging:
- AHS to complete all testing as soon as possible;
- Alberta Environment to provide solutions for dumping fire ash;
- Alberta Municipal Affairs to clear the way for the reconstruction of Waterways; and
- The Regional Municipality to expedite all necessary permits.
“When I said that Fort McMurray should be rebuilt better than ever before, I think everyone agreed that should be our goal,” Panda said. “The Premier needs to become involved to so that bureaucratic red tape doesn’t stall Fort McMurray’s reconstruction. This project will be largely paid for with private money, we just need government to help by getting out of the way as much as possible.”