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MyMcMurray 2019 in review

Last Updated Dec 31, 2019 at 6:23 am MST

PHOTO. Burned ground surrounds a sign welcoming visitors to Fort McMurray during a media tour of the fire-damaged Alberta city on Monday, May 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Take a look back at some of the biggest events that happened in our region in 2019.

January 

Mayor Don Scott introduced a motion that would set the tone for council for the rest of the year. Camp accommodations and Fly in Fly Out (FIFO) workforce became a hot topic with the motion that would see all work camps banned within a 75 kilometer radius of Fort McMurray.

READ MORE: Camp ban controversy draws big crowd to Council

February 

More businesses opened in The Commons of Eagle Ridge. A family arcade and indoor playground opened right next to Landmark Cinemas. Jolly Jay was the site of many birthday parties for kids in 2019.

READ MORE: Family arcade place to open in Eagle Ridge

March

NDP leader Rachel Notley visited Fort McMurray to address her plans for our community during her her election campaign.

READ MORE: Notley gives plans for the region

After a father of newborn twins lost his wife shortly after the babies were born, the community rallied together to ensure he had support.

READ MORE: Community continues to rally around new father who lost his wife

April

Only a week after the new helipad at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre was brought into service, Regional Emergency Services and Local HERO transported the first patient to the hospital. The helipad shaved 20-25 minutes off travel time.

READ MORE: New helipad ushers in new chapter for patient care: Spring

May 

Statistics in May showed that 63 per cent of residents still weren’t home three years after the 2016 wildfire that destroyed 2,579 dwellings.

READ MORE: Third year wildfire anniversary: Mayor Scott talks progress and mental health

Council approved a new tax ratio from 14.30 per cent to 12.45 per cent reducing overall property tax by $28 million.

READ MORE: Council approves property tax rate bylaw, decrease of $28M

June 

The long-awaited bowling alley and bar opened up in The Commons of Eagle Ridge. The Banquet is described as a premium dive bar and features six bowling lanes in the basement and a 4,000 square foot rooftop patio.

READ MORE: The Banquet opening in June in Eagle Ridge

A split vote by Council killed the bylaw restricting new and renewed work camps within 75 kilometers of Fort McMurray. Council also unanimously agreed on dismantling the weather catcher, famously known as “The Mister.”

READ MORE: Council cans work camp ban and weather catcher

July 

Fort McMurray International Airport (YMM) was ranked third in Canada for on-time commercial departures. In 2018 around 640,000 passengers travelled through YMM on 6,094 flights.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray ranks third out of 20 Canadian airports

A July council meeting discussed the East Clearwater Highway and downtown revitalization. After nearly two hours of presentations and debate, council voted in favour of Mayor Don Scott’s motion to send a letter to various levels of government in regards to the highway.

In an effort to make downtown and Waterways more attractive for developments, council voted unanimously to renew the Development Charges Subsidy Program, which gives reductions of 60 and 100 per cent to developers based on their building location.

READ MORE: Council approves motion to send letter in regards to East Clearwater Highway

August 

Studies started on a fossil found roughly three and a half years ago at Suncor’s Millennium Mine.

READ MORE: Studies start on fossil found at Suncor’s Millennium Mine

Wood Buffalo was ranked as the 365th best community to live in out of 415 communities. The list was compiled by Maclean’s.

READ MORE: Wood Buffalo ranks 365 on best community list

September 

Premier Jason Kenney visited the region for the 34th annual Oil Sands Trade Show and Conference. He also announced the provincial government’s constitutional challenge of Bill C-69 and visited Fort McKay to meet with local Indigenous leaders to talk about being partners in prosperity.

Read More: Premier Kenney visits Wood Buffalo

Two advisory committees were established to make recommendations for developing the downtown core and waterfront. Council also discussed further developing the Ross Hennigar Park in Thickwood and not allowing any more developments to the Jina Burn Memorial Chess Park in Dickinsfield.

READ MORE: Council discussed developing the region

MacDonald Island Park introduced the new MemberPLUS+, a membership tier that extends access to the High-Performance Training Centre including unlimited fitness classes and childcare services for no additional cost.

READ MORE: New perks for members coming to MacDonald Island Park

The Oil Sands Community Alliance released a Sustainable Community Indicators report that showed the region had a 20 per cent decrease in active businesses between 2015 and 2018.

READ MORE: Report shows decline in active businesses in Wood Buffalo

October

David Yurdiga was voted in for another term as Member of Parliament and Justin Trudeau was re-elected as the Prime Minister with a minority Liberal government.

READ MORE: David Yurdiga elected as MP for Fort McMurray-Cold Lake

The Centre of Hope became the focus of a newly launched campaign. The Board of Directors is looking to raise $5 million to rebuild the current facility, which is the only day time drop-in centre for individuals living in homelessness in the region.

READ MORE: Campaign hopes to rebuild region’s only daytime drop in centre for homeless

November 

Alberta Wildfire reported that there were 80 wildfires during the 2019 wildfire season in the Fort McMurray Forest Area that burned a total of 50,588 ha. Humans caused 36 per cent of the total wildfires, with the rest being natural causes, due to lightning strikes.

READ MORE: 2019 Alberta wildfire season officially over

Fort McMurray Airport Authority announced a new charter service with Caesars Rewards to Laughlin, Navada. It is the first cross-border flight departing from Fort McMurray International Airport in four years.

READ MORE: YMM Airport announces new Charter service to Laughlin, Nevada

The Canadian Mental Health Association’s Recovery College celebrated its grand opening. The college located at 111, 8530 Manning Ave., currently offers 11 free courses that cover things like establishing boundaries, dealing with anxiety, creating healthy relationships and more.

READ MORE: CMHA Wood Buffalo Recovery College celebrates grand opening

It was announced that a handful of projects in Wood Buffalo would see funding over the next four years. Projects include the Athabasca Delta School, Willow Square, the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre and Highway 63.

READ MORE: Alberta commits to local infrastructure projects

Syncrude announced they would donate three million dollars to several local programs and initiatives to commemorate its production milestone of three billion barrels of crude oil from Mildred Lake.

READ MORE: Syncrude celebrates milestone with new community investments

December 

Alberta Transportation said they’re aware of difficulties for motorists, in particular at the Confederation Way interchange. EMCON has been hired to investigate lighting along Hwy. 63 during the month of December to determine the scope and time frame to complete repairs.

READ MORE: Alberta Transportation to shed light on Highway 63 issues

The Municipality announced a transition of the Urban Market, handing over the reins to the local property developer, LIAM. Year-round Urban Markets will support small, startup businesses and aid in downtown revitalization efforts. They will be held at the old Alberta Motor Products location on Franklin Avenue.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray Urban Market now year-round

After facing some challenges this year and having to cut back programming the Wood Buffalo Food Bank held several successful fundraisers including their Spring Food Drive, Empty Bowls Festival and ended the year exceeding their fundraising goal during the annual Syncrude Food Drive.

READ MORE: Annual Syncrude Food Drive exceeds $300K goal

The province has approved an oil sands project northwest of Conklin. Grizzly’s May River development project is expected to produce around 12,000 barrels of bitumen per day. It will use steam assisted gravity drainage technology, which minimizes its environmental footprint.

READ MORE: Oil sands project northwest of Conklin approved by province