Fort McMurray prepares temporary housing for residents who lost homes

Hundreds of temporary rental units will be available in Fort McMurray for residents whose homes have been destroyed, if they wish to return.

Detailed inspection map shows the status of each property in Fort McMurray

More than 2,400 structures were lost in the Fort McMurray wildfire. (The Canadian Press )

Hundreds of rental units will be available in Fort McMurray for residents whose homes have been destroyed, if they wish to return.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo council discussed plans to get people without homes back into the community on Wednesday afternoon after Premier Rachel Notley announced the staged re-entry plan for Fort McMurray.

Dale Bendfeld, the executive director of community and protective services for the municipality, said work has already begun to create a database of available units that will be available in time for the first residents to return on June 1.

To date, there are 385 unfurnished units available through the Wood Buffalo Housing Corporation, most of which have two bedrooms.

"That is just one piece that we're looking at," Bendfeld said. "We're looking at hotels, we're looking at any other vacant properties, working with land property owners to try to find everything that is available."

'We're looking for normalcy for people'

Bendfeld said approximately 2,200 of the 2,400 structures destroyed in Fort McMurray were homes. He said it's important for the owners of those properties to be able to return, even if they don't have homes to return to. 

"They need to come home, they need to be back around family, friends, neighbours," he said.

Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake said the recession that hit Fort McMurray before the fire is working to the town's advantage, as there are more vacant units available now.

She said the town doesn't want to have to put people up in camp-like units when they return.

"We're looking for normalcy for people and existing assets will help provide that for people, I think," Blake said.

The cost of the temporary units for residents hasn't been determined yet. The province has created a transitional accommodation benefit which will cover the cost of damage deposits, rent, and utility connections for up to 90 days from the date of the evacuation for eligible evacuees.

Detailed fire map now available

To help people plan their return to the community, the municipality released a more detailed map of the area affected by the fire.

The map contains information from inspection of 19,244 buildings, which were completed from the outside.

A new map released by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo shows the condition of individual houses in Fort McMurray. (Laura Osman/CBC News)

Residents can type in their address and find out if their home is safe to return to and see detailed images of what it looks like.

Blake warned the information and the pictures may be disturbing for residents, especially those whose homes looked fine on earlier, less detailed maps.

"People may not be prepared to see that," she said. "I really think people need to be in a safe viewing spot and be prepared to deal with whatever that outcome is."

The map can be found on Wood Buffalo's website.