While some suggest Fort McMurray will never fully recover from last year’s wildfire, nobody can deny a major rebuild is underway. Before the blaze about five or six companies handled the bulk of home construction in the oilsands capital. Casman Group of Companies has been building homes in the community since 1981, and says now there are more than 60 builders in Fort McMurray.
“The construction season overall will be very busy,” said Jordan Weston with Casman Group. “Really, we’ve been through a few booms out here so we’re kind of predicting it will be hectic and short on supply, stuff like that. But we’re trying to preplan and get everything ready and sorted to go.”
The wildfire destroyed about 2,400 structures, many of them homes. Weston says this building boom is different, because it’s driven by helping people put their lives back together, not to service a hot economy.
“We sit with the homeowners on multiple occasions and make sure they’re completely comfortable and educated with the rebuild process, and [we help] them through the whole thing,” said Weston.
“It’s nice to actually see the end of the road of some of these people’s houses and getting them moved back in and they’re very emotional with the process as well.”
Casman Group credits the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo for waiving some building fees and hiring more staff to issue permits and carry out inspections. The business says an increased demand for subcontractors and material could push back the completion date for some of the builds in the city, but it’s projects are expected to be on schedule.