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Rebuilding Fort McMurray to be long, slow process

(Courtesy: Cheryl Oates or @cherylanne on Twitter)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to meet with first responders Friday as he gets a first-hand look at the damage in Fort McMurray.

Trudeau also plans to travel to Edmonton to meet with Premier Rachel Notley, who is expected to press for enhanced employment insurance benefits for the Edmonton area as a consequence of the wildfire.

The federal government is also putting together a special cabinet committee to co-ordinate aid and reconstruction.

There’s no timeline on reconstruction yet, but Jim Rivait, CEO of the Canadian Homebuilders Association Alberta, says co-ordination between insurance companies, government and builders will help speed up the process.

He adds there is a lot to do before Fort Mac will be ready for shovels, like finding somewhere to put all the contaminated soil.

“The assessment of the infrastructure could take eight to twelve weeks as well, in terms of what has to be done with roads which had a raging, 800 degree fire going through and what impact that had on shallow services,” he explains, adding it’s important to remember the council of Wood Buffalo and many of the people who will be key to the rebuild are also victims of the fire.

It varies as to how long it will take to get the whole city rebuilt, but Rivait says it takes about six months to build a house and a year to build multi-family homes.

He believes there is a lot of capacity for people to move within the community already, without new homes being built, thanks to a high number of homes for sale and spaces for rent.

Rivait adds there is a fair amount of space in hotels and motels thanks to the economic downturn, which could be used to house the hundreds of construction workers which will be needed.

They’ve already received offers of help from as far away as Georgia but he stresses they need to make sure they attract quality builders who are familiar with Alberta’s building codes.