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Council discussed solving FIFO issues

Last Updated Dec 12, 2018 at 1:06 am MST

A work's camp near an oilsands mine facility seen from the air near Fort McMurray, Alta., Monday, Sept. 19, 2011.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Council had a lengthy discuss about the fly-in fly-out workforce at their meeting on Dec. 11, 2018.

For all sectors that have a FIFO workforce, there are 109 work camps in the region with a constructed capacity of 55,065 beds and an approved build-out of 68,753 beds.

While the results of the 2018 Municipal Census have not been approved by the Government of Alberta, the 2015 Municipal Census indicates that the camp population for all sectors accounted for 30.6 per cent of the region’s population, or 38,264 people out of a total population of 125,032.

A March report from the Oilsands Community Alliance (OSCA) outlined how FIFO workers made their commute:

  • 58 per cent flying from one of six privately owned aerodromes located at oilsands sites

(There are also 31 aerodromes regulated and approved through Transport Canada which are used by various sectors in the region.)

  • 24 per cent drive
  • 16 per cent travel in and out of the Fort McMurray International Airport
  • 5 per cent live in the region

 

Councillor Jeff Peddle found these number “disturbing.”

“To me when people get a general idea that there’s 30,000 people on our doorstep that in our camps is disturbing to me. With 109 camps and 31 aerodromes and none of the money stays in our region,” said Peddle. “We need chance now, for residents and the longevity of our community.”

Both Peddle and Mayor Don Scott mentioned that having workers earn paychecks in our region but spend their money elsewhere creates huge problems for our economy and businesses.

Mayor Scott went said the numbers were unacceptable.

“I don’t believe any other region in Canada that would accept these kind of numbers, with 30 per cent of the population living in work camps,” said Mayor Scott.

READ MORE: New study indicates negative impacts of FIFO workers and offers solution

The Municipal Development Plan (MDP) set population distribution targets by 2030 where 85% of the region’s total population would reside in Fort McMurray, 10 per cent in work camps, with the remaining 5 per cent in rural hamlets.

The 2018-2021 Strategic Plan includes regional economic development as one of its top priorities and Chief Administrative Officer Annette Antoniak said one of the keys to strengthening our local economy and increasing our permanent residence population is to find ways to attract oilsands workers to put down roots, raise families and enjoy all that this rejoin has to offer.

During her presentation she said Mayor, Council and Administration were working on it.

“We wanted everyone to know that incentive options are begin explored and we are looking to Industry to partner with us and look at ways of working differently in the future so that we could have more people living and working in our region,” said Antoniak.

Potential incentive options could include recreation, transportation, education, permits and direct incentives through taxation.

Administration will continue to collaborate with OSCA and other stakeholders to execute a plan and strategies to attract workers to reside in the region rather than choosing to commute and the Wood Buffalo Steering Group will present quarterly progress updates to Council on proposed options.

Mayor Scott also issued a notice of motion for the Jan. 22, 2019 meeting that would have Administration take steps to impose a prohibition on any new camp accommodations and any renewals for existing camp accommodation within 120 kilometers of Fort McMurray.