Fort McMurray council calls on province for more interim housing options

Fort McMurray city council wants the province of Alberta to provide interim housing for families displaced by the wildfire in May.

Demand high for multi-bedroom and pet-friendly interim housing units

(CBC/David Thurton)

Fort McMurray city council wants the province of Alberta to provide interim housing for families displaced by the wildfire in May.

The municipality voted Tuesday to formally ask the province to provide more money for transitional housing that is pet friendly and has three or more bedrooms. The money would come from the Alberta Disaster Recovery Fund.

It is hard talking about keeping the family together when we have them staying in a camp or hotel.- Coun. Keith McGrath

"The reason we are making this request is to look after families," Coun. Keith McGrath said at Tuesday's council meeting. McGrath is also a member of the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee.

"We are talking about keeping the family together. And it is hard talking about keeping the family together when we have them staying in a camp or hotel."

According to a council report, existing rental units will not meet the demand for interim housing required for the next three or more years for residents whose homes were destroyed.

Report says more multi-bedroom, pet-friendly housing needed

The report said the wildfire, which forced the evacuation of the entire city, destroyed or damaged 2,793 homes or apartments, and a total of 3,200 units cannot be occupied.

It also cited a May study by the Red Cross that found there's a need for larger units that have more than two bedrooms.

The relief agency surveyed its clients and found 29.6 per cent of respondents, or 466 households, said they needed three or four bedroom units. The survey also found that 30 per cent of respondents, or 468 households, required pet friendly housing.

The council report includes another survey conducted by Syncrude in June that showed 32 per cent of their employees — a total of 82 — required units with three or more bedrooms before the September 2016 school year.