Don Scott, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) mayoral candidate, believes it is critical to restore a sense of confidence in the residents of the Wood Buffalo region subsequent to the events of May, 2016 and address the concerns raised over the potential response to similar events in the future, as well as develop strong strategies to prevent disasters of this nature.
“During talks with residents who were impacted to various degrees by the wildfire in May, 2016, I have become aware of significant anxiety regarding the safety and security of our community during events like the one we experienced on May 3rd,” said Scott. “It has become increasingly apparent that we must take steps as a municipal government to ensure members of our region feel confident and secure in our community and our response to both prevent and respond to emergency situations. The recently released RMWB commissioned KPMG report ‘Lessons Learned and Recommendations from the 2016 Horse River Wildfire’ has provided a strong set of recommendations that are critical to implement in our region.”
Scott believes it is vital for the RMWB to take certain steps to achieve this level of confidence and security for residents. These steps include:
- Implementation of all recommendations affecting municipal operations arising from municipal and provincial reports and reviews related to the wildfire
- Hold the provincial government accountable for implementation of any and all recommendations from these reports and reviews that fall under their scope
- Seek FireSmart Recognition for the communities in the Wood Buffalo region by adopting the principles and practices of the FireSmart program
- Maintain municipal firefighting response times to ensure timely response in emergency situations
- Ensure the completion and maintenance of the secondary egress routes currently under construction in neighbourhoods with a sole egress route
- Explore opportunities to develop an incentive program to encourage residents to consider using fire resistant building and landscaping materials when building, rebuilding or renovating
- Continue to work with all stakeholders to strengthen our region both in response to disaster situations and prevention of their occurrence
“Another issue which has been raised in my conversations with residents is the movement of dangerous goods through the central core of Fort McMurray and the potential impact a chemical spill could have on the community and our residents,” said Scott. “The transportation of goods of this nature to our main industrial sites is often critical to their operation, but the fact that these goods are transported on the same roadway our citizens use every day is of deep concern to many residents. I believe it is imperative we examine the potential to develop a dangerous goods route that would ensure the safety and security of our urban community while still ensuring our industry partners have the access they need to operate.”
Scott is not only committed to ensuring recommendations from the reports and reviews relating to the wildfire are implemented, but also to embracing open, honest and transparent communications with residents of the region.
“I think it is vital that the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo engages in transparent and honest dialogue with residents on the lessons learned in May, 2016,” said Scott. “While we hope we will never again face a challenge of that magnitude, we must ensure we implement all recommendations to both prevent its occurrence as well as plan for the possibility of such a future event; and we must communicate to our residents the actions we are taking and will take in the future to ensure their safety and security. In addition, I believe we must take steps to educate residents on the manners in which they can help to both prevent wildfires and protect their property through programs such as FireSmart.”
“In order to consider a community home, residents must feel confident, safe and secure both in their daily lives and in the ability of their government to respond to critical incidents that have potential impact on residents. The release of the recent report commissioned by the RMWB is a starting point; it is crucial that the recommendations are implemented both in the present and in the future to restore the confidence of our residents, and I am committed to achieving this confidence for the region,” said Scott. “Should I be elected, I look forward to the opportunity to work with all stakeholders as we look towards the future by ensuring we learn from the past.”
To learn more about Don Scott’s platform on restoring confidence and rebuilding or to get involved in his campaign for a stronger tomorrow, please visit donscott.ca.