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Municipality seeks to honour its heritage

PHOTO. Mayor Don Scott, RMWB Council, and members of administration gather for a Christmas sweater photo prior to their council meeting on Dec. 10, 2019. MYMCMURRAY/Phil Wood

There may be a resolution to the thorny issue of expropriation.

Mayor and Councillors at the Dec. 10 meeting voted to defer a motion to claim land necessary for the construction of a secondary egress road.

The administration sought approval to expropriate a parcel of land near Draper Road for the proposed Saline Creek Parkway.

The reasoning was that talks between it and the landowner broke down.

RMWB Council was reluctant to expropriate deferring the motion, when it first came to light on Nov. 26, 2019.

However, the administration was able to re-establish communication with the landowner.

Council voted to defer the motion, giving the Municipality more time to resolve the land issue.

Mayor and Councillors expect an update by the end of the first quarter of 2020.

Without the egress road, residents may need airlifts to safety in event of a disaster similar to the 2016 wildfire.

Aviation history

As the Municipality embarks on a new year, the final public meeting of RMWB Council for 2019 featured motions that recognize its history.

Council approved a motion asking the administration to investigate the feasibility of hosting a floatplane festival.

Fort McMurray was a floatplane hub in the early days of aviation, particularly during the 1920s and 30s.

By 1932, Fort McMurray housed the busiest water-based airport in Canada.

Bush pilots like C.H. “Punch” Dickins and Wilfred “Wop” Reid May made routine stops at the city delivering mail and supplies, and charting Canada’s North.

Mayor Don Scott, who first expressed interest during the 2020 budget talks, said it’s a part of our region’s history.

“We need to have a piece of art celebrating our floatplane history and some historical signage. Get the people who enjoy floatplanes to come back to this region and celebrate it [as] other communities do.”

The administration initially proposed the Snye River as an ideal location to host a festival.

They also believe a festival create and strengthen relationships with the aviation community, and liven the downtown core.

Council expects to hear a report on its progress in two months’ time.

Indigenous heritage

A second motion about the naming of parks in Parsons Creek received unanimous approval from Council.

The Community Identification Committee (CIC) presented five names, which come from the Cree language for each of the local parks.

Mayor Don Scott said the names honour our region’s Indigenous heritage.

“We have a very strong, rich First Nations and Métis culture in this region, it’s something we always acknowledge, and we’re doing a lot of meetings right now to see how we can make the relationship more effective.”

The CIC presented the following names:

  1. Niska Park: Formerly the Natural Waterfront West park, Niska means ‘Goose’ in English. The park contains trails and a waterfront lookout area.
  2. Sisip Connection: The word means ‘Duck’ in English and features a wet pond, which is a hot spot for ducks during the spring and summer.
  3. Amisk Plaza: The East Urban Waterfront has a walkway with stairs that lead to a beaver-shaped pond and amphitheatre. The CIC chose Amisk, which means ‘Beaver’ in English.
  4. Maskwa Greens: Meaning ‘Bear’ in English, the greens are a large area with a playground, trails, and a parking lot.
  5. Mahkesis Park: Currently known as the East Central or Skate Park, the CIC elected the word Mahkesis, which means ‘Fox’ in English.


These parks will officially adopt the new names at a future date.

Finally, RMWB Council approved for administration to ask Indigenous leaders if they would like the region to host a summit meeting.

First proposed during the 2020 budget talks, preliminary estimates figure the cost of hosting an Indigenous Summit at $100,000.

Mayor Don Scott said from a municipal perspective, they want a strong relationship with everyone in Wood Buffalo.

He also encourages businesses to learn more about Indigenous culture and heritage.

RMWB Council also received an update from the Livability Task Force.

Mayor and Councillors meet again on Jan. 14, 2020, at the Syncrude Athletic Park while council chambers undergo renovations