Loading articles...

Moratorium motion survives rescission vote

Last Updated Jun 5, 2019 at 2:01 am MST

Council meets to discuss rescinding the motion tasking the administration to propose a bylaw to halt all new and renewed licenses for project accommodations up to 75 km from the urban service area. Photo taken by Phil Wood.

Despite talks of partnership and collaboration between the RMWB, business leaders and industry groups, the “75-km moratorium motion” will go ahead.

Council defeated the motion to rescind it with a split vote of 4-4.

Therefore, the motion lives for at least one more week.

The motion would task administration to process a bylaw to freeze licenses for new and renewed camp accommodations within 75 km of the urban service area.

In a spirited and passionate debate, Mayor Don Scott said there is a lot more work left to do.

“I think it’s important that residents see the passion, and see where we are at in the situation.”

Mayor Scott added he has difficulty with the reported 29,235 people living in the 63 camp accommodations.

That is nearly 30 per cent of the region’s population, according to 2018 census data.

According to the Municipal Development Plan (MDP), 10 per cent of the region’s population should be residing in project accommodations by 2030.

However, Oilsands Sands Community Alliance (OSCA) representative Karim Zariffa disagrees with Mayor Scott’s conclusions.

Disappointed with council’s vote, Zariffa said that number leaves out key considerations.

“I think we got to be mindful that there are 14 to 15 thousand that were here for turnaround. You’re now getting extremely close to that 20 per cent.”

That number would make reaching the 2030 mark feasible.

Zariffa said even the administration found there are many other factors at play.

“A moratorium is an attempt at applying a one size fits all solution, and administration has recognized that it’s not that simple.”

The OSCA representative said he counted the word “partnership” spoken as many as 15 times during the meeting.

He adds the Municipality and Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation must do their part to attract workers to stay.

Despite the progress made in discussions between administration and industry partners, Mayor Scott wants hard agreements in place.

“The best result is a good collaborative effort, but until I see that I need to take very serious action on this issue.”

The motion goes for first reading next week on June 11, 2019.

If it passes, then the motion goes for a public hearing next month.

Why rescind?

Councillor Verna Murphy, who introduced the motion back in January, brought forward the motion to rescind it.

Murphy said a moratorium isn’t what the region needs at this time.

“Over the last few months, I spent so much time researching, going to the camps, and taking the tours. In alignment with Jason Kenney, our new Premier, he’s really thrown the doors open, and I want to do the same for Fort McMurray.”

During the meeting, the provincial government tabled new legislation amending the Municipal Government Act (MGA).

‘Bill 7’ would enable municipalities to offer 15-year tax breaks for prospecting businesses.

Murphy said the discussions with industry and stakeholders show progress like the ‘Park and Ride’ pilot program.

She encouraged by the recommendations from housing, transportation, and community support subcommittees.

“There’s so many different things that I see as positives and we could be working with industry,” Murphy said. “So that’s where my direction is.”

The housing subcommittee would investigate housing incentives and how to reach various people groups.

Meanwhile, the transportation subcommittee would lobby for infrastructure improvements and look at fatigue management systems.

Finally, the large subcommittee for community support services would be in charge of accessibility, diversity, and social programs.