Maggie Thatcher wasn't a great model for women. But the Mayor of Fort McMurray Alberta seems to be a decent sort, suggesting through her actions that housing and social problems need to be taken care of before more mega-business can proceed.
Fort McMurray votes to put brakes on oil sands
FORT MCMURRAY, ALTA. — The mayor and council in this booming northern Alberta city voted unanimously Tuesday to try and put the brakes on all future oil sands development until something is done to improve the area's infrastructure.
Specifically, Mayor Melissa Blake and the council for the Municipality of Wood Buffalo agreed to apply for intervenor status when oil sands giant Suncor goes to the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board on July 5 to apply for an expansion of its operations.
However, they also decided to take the same action for any future application by any other oil sands company.
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“There's going to be a definite impact on how much the oil sands itself can advance and progress if we can't get our housing situation under control,” said Ms. Blake.
Oil boom brings progress and problems to city
June 13, 2006
By Wojtek Dabrowski
Housing in Canada’s oil town of Fort McMurray is so scarce that some workers live in campers in hotel parking lots, pitch tents on the city’s outskirts or rent garages and toolsheds as homes.
Billboards scream out job offers. Burger King pays US$13 (R87) an hour, or twice the provincial minimum wage, while a Shell petrol station offers new workers the chance to win a vacation. Spiralling salaries lure outsiders with the promise of a good life.
But the oil boom has also brought problems to a city that now has 61 000 residents, up from 34 000 just 10 years ago. Another 9 000 live in work camps that support massive construction projects.
There are an estimated 450 homeless, as would-be workers struggle to find a home, and police have doubled their drugs squad – to six from three – to cope with rising crime.
Last year, Fort McMurray saw 1 232 “persons crimes”, which include murder, assault and sexual assault, up 22.6% from 2004.
“We do have drug problems, we have organised crime, we have street-level prostitution, as do other large urban centres,” said police Superintendent Peter Clark, the town’s top officer.