Walmart avoids trial on wildfire-contaminated food in Fort McMurray

Walmart Canada and four senior managers charged in January 2017 with selling contaminated food after the Fort McMurray wildfire have reached an agreement in the case with Alberta Health Services, according to a court document.

The company and the managers were charged with 174 offences under the Public Health Act related to the sale of contaminated food following the wildfire in May 2016.

The month-long trial was set to begin Monday in Fort McMurray provincial court.

But a letter filed with the court indicates the parties have reached a resolution, and will present an agreed statement of facts and a joint sentencing submission on Monday.

In a 31-page charge sheet, AHS alleged the Walmart store sold contaminated food ranging from chocolate bars to pasta, breakfast cereal, bacon and cheese. The charges alleged that Walmart Canada failed to ensure that contaminated food or food that was unfit for human consumption was not stocked or sold at its outlet in downtown Fort McMurray.

Four additional charges alleged that Walmart lied to public health inspectors by saying it was not selling food that had been contaminated in the fire.

Walmart at one time faced the prospect of a $10-million class-action lawsuit. But the firm that was considering filing the suit, Higgerty Law, said it has been withdrawn due to lack of interest.

More than 90,000 people in Fort McMurray and surrounding communities were forced from their homes for nearly a month after the wildfire in May 2016 that destroyed about 2,400 homes and buildings and left layers of toxic smoke-residue behind.

Before allowing residents to re-enter the city, health officials repeatedly advised residents and businesses to throw out any food that wasn’t stored safely in cans.

Company and four of its senior managers face 174 charges under the Public Health Act 2:05

Connect with David Thurton, CBC’s Fort McMurray correspondent, on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn or email him at 

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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.


Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

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