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Council hears update about FIFO strategy

PHOTO. Jubilee Centre. Sarah Anderson. REPORTER.

The final scheduled RMWB Council meeting of 2019 begins on Dec. 10.

Several motions will appear before the Mayor and Councillors including a deferred motion from Nov. 26, 2019.

The administration will recommend the Council approve the expropriation of land near Draper Road for the construction of a secondary egress road.

Titled the Saline Creek Parkway, the administration estimated the total cost of the egress road over multiple years at $85-million.

Council vote to defer to allow the administration to reestablish contact with the landowner.

However, negotiations and the ability to communicate with the owner were unsuccessful.

The Municipality said there are no alternatives because of topographical and slope stability issues.

Livability Task Force

Next, the administration and Oil Sands Community Alliance (OSCA) will present their update from the Livability Task Force.

On June 7, 2019, RMWB Council charged the task force with finding ways to encourage more members of the rotational workforce to become permanent residents in the region.

The group will also work with the Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation (WBEDC).

They provide Mayor and Councillors with bi-annual reports on its progress.

The task force addresses housing, transportation, and support services in three separate sub-committees.

An OSCA survey found 48 per cent of respondents would consider moving to Wood Buffalo as the region addressed those challenges, including job security.

The survey found contractors, Albertans, Canadians from the north and east, people from 18-35 years of age, and visitors were most likely to move here.

There were 14,000 turnaround workers in 2018, and OSCA said industry planned big turnarounds for next year.

Possibilities in 2020

During the 2020 budget talks in November, Mayor Don Scott requested the Municipality look into the concept of a floatplane festival on the Snye River.

A motion will ask the administration to continue to work with community partners to explore the possibility.

If approved, the Municipality will return to RMWB Council before the end of the first quarter of 2020 with a detailed budget report.

Fort McMurray had a long history with floatplane aviation going back to the first recording plane landing on the Snye in 1923 by a Vicker’s Vidette.

By 1932, the city was a hub for floatplane aviation.

Bush pilots C.H. “Punch” Dickins and Wilfred “Wop” Reid May transported mail and medicine to remote outposts in Canada’s North.

Dickins’ namesake is on a school and neighbourhood in Fort McMurray.

Also, he recently received a commemorative plaque near the banks of the Snye from Parks Canada.

Wood Buffalo could also host an Indigenous Summit.

Mayor Don Scott put forward a request during the budget meetings for the Municipality to host all of the region’s Indigenous leaders.

The request followed a presentation from the Communications, Stakeholder, Indigenous and Rural Relations (CSIRR) group.

Preliminary research suggests the estimated cost for a Summit is $100,000.

However, the administration suggested three possible measures.

First, CSIRR could work with the Reconciliation Advisory Circle developing the idea of a Summit.

Second, CSIRR could seek help from organizations like the Northern Alberta Development Council on participating in future Summits.

Finally, CSIRR may look into the actual costs for hosting a Summit and gauge interest from local First Nations and Métis groups.

RMWB Council will meet on Dec. 10, 2019, at 4 p.m.