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Fort McMurray plans ‘tranquil’ gathering to mark wildfire anniversary

Police officers direct traffic under a cloud of smoke from a wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., on May 6, 2016.

JASON FRANSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A "tranquil, welcoming, supportive" gathering will be held to mark the one-year anniversary of the devastating wildfire in northeastern Alberta.

Mayor Melissa Blake says the dawn-to-dusk gathering on May 3 at Snye Park in Fort McMurray allows friends and neighbours to come together, reflect, and share in a safe and supported community environment.

The community says the gathering's format is based on feedback from residents and stakeholders and in keeping with lessons learned from other communities in disaster recovery.

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The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, of which Fort McMurray is a part, says no formal presentations will be made and all activities will be free.

The wildfire last year forced more than 80,000 people to flee the city and the region and destroyed more than 2,400 homes and other buildings.

A report in January estimated the total financial impact of the wildfire at almost $8.9-billion.

"Marking this occasion is an important step in our region's recovery," Blake said Tuesday in a news release.

The day starts at 5 a.m. with a community breakfast accompanied by wellness activities such as sunrise meditation and yoga.

There will be arts, recreation, leisure and spiritual activities throughout the day, culminating with a barbecue and informal activities including local artists, acoustic performances and games.

Video: Fort McMurray residents look back, one year after fire (The Canadian Press)
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