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Council cans work camp ban and weather catcher

Last Updated Jun 12, 2019 at 6:31 am MDT

PHOTO. The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.'s Jubilee Centre. MYMCMURRAY/Phil Wood.

A split vote by Council killed the bylaw restricting new and renewed work camps within 75 kilometres of Fort McMurray.

During the June 11 meeting, ten council members voted 5-5 after the first reading of the work camp ban.

Therefore, the motion is dead.

Mayor Don Scott, who introduced the original motion in January, says it’s democracy in action.

“It’s something I’m obviously passionate about, sometimes too passionate. Perhaps after some consideration, it will be brought back again, but right now nothing’s moving forward.”

Although he’s personally disappointed, Mayor Scott will pause, reflect and speak with his constituents.

However, the first reading of the bylaw with regards to regulations and controls over work camp licensing passed by a 7-3 margin.

The public hearing for that motion will go ahead on July 9, 2019.

Councillor Verna Murphy is glad to move on with discussions between industry.

“They’ve really been coming to the table. You can look at any piece of infrastructure in our city and industry supports it, and our social profits benefit. So, I think that we need to continue building on those relationships.”

Murphy added the incentive package administration, industry, and the FIFO subcommittees presented last week helped to sway opinions.

As for those discussions, Oil Sands Community Alliance (OSCA) representative Karim Zariffa said those will continue.

He added the oilsands industry’s work towards reaching the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) targets by 2030.

“We’re seeing the progress: [FIFO] population is down 15 per cent and we’re going to continue working with administration and the three sub-groups on incentives [and] initiatives to move the needle.”

Zariffa said the defeat of the work camp ban alleviates the tension surrounding negotiations.

Talks between industry partners, the three subcommittees, and the Municipality will resume in this new climate.

Weather Catcher

Mayor and council were of one accord when they voted unanimously in disposing of the Weather Catcher.

The administration cited safety concerns and annual costs to its electrics, water purification, and programming as reasons to dispose of the art deco piece.

Also, steam from the ‘Mister’ damages the air circulation systems for the nearby cafe.

Mayor Don Scott called it an eyesore that has no purpose in the region.

“I couldn’t be happier that Weather Catcher is going down. I would’ve gone out and torn it down myself, if needed. We heard about the costs to keep it going and the various safety concerns. It was not worth it to keep that thing up.”

Maintenance costs $23,000 annually, while the teardown would cost $20,000.

Additionally, enthused residents routinely climb the structure putting them and first responders at harm.

According to the figures from procurement, Mayor Don Scott says disposal should take between 10-30 days to complete.

Facts and figures

  • Council approved an Animal Control bylaw appointing the Community Standards Appeal Committee (CSAC) to review decision involving vicious animal declarations.
  • Council also voted unanimously in support of the Parks Master Plan and the Urban Forest Strategy as guiding documentation.
  • Both ten-year plans support Parks Operations in developing parkland, waterfront, playground areas, and improving urban and rural natural and cultural landscapes.