The narrative about Fort McMurray is well established. And unfortunately for those who live and work in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB), it’s one that’s less than flattering.
Aerial photograph of Fort McMurray
Most commentary about Fort McMurray these days seems to reinforce stereotypes about the community. There are documentaries, perspectives from visiting celebrity activists and countless media articles. The city is typically characterized as a wild and wooly frontier town, and there’s often inclusion of sensationalistic and even salacious detail to support that portrayal.
We think such coverage does its readers and viewers a disservice, as it also overlooks the positive elements of this unique and vibrant community. Suncor shares the tremendous pride that the people of this community have about their home. That’s why we’re unveiling five things you may not know about Fort McMurray.
1. Fort McMurray is no frontier town.
The RMWB is a dynamic community of over 120,000 (over 77,000 in Fort McMurray) and continues to attract people from over 100 countries around the world. With 44 per cent of the population under the age of 30, it offers residents significant recreation opportunities, including access to Western Canada’s largest recreation centre and a world-class trail system. It also boasts a full range of arenas, pools, cultural centres and more than 70 restaurants.
Fort McMurray also has a vibrant arts and culture scene. From galleries to theatres to festivals, Fort McMurray celebrates its distinctive culture and the diverse backgrounds of the people who live there.
2. Industry support in Fort McMurray goes beyond signage.
Industry support of Fort McMurray is not about cheque-writing or getting a corporate name on a sign. It’s about actively engaging in building the community’s quality of life. Substantial community investments are being made in science and technology, literacy, youth leadership, and in aboriginal education and training, culture, health, recreation and other areas.
3. Leadership and innovation are taking place in Fort McMurray.
There’s Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo, a community-driven collaborative project to build and sustain social innovation and social change in the region. There’s also the Redpoll Centre, a shared space that is intended to help not-for-profit organizations pool resources, and collaborate on common issues and needs. (Named for the redpoll, a hardy bird that is a year-round resident in the area, it’s a facility that is helping to make a difference in the community.)
4. Philanthropic spirit is alive and well.
Fort McMurray has been recognized as the most giving community in Canada by the United Way for five consecutive years.
5. People in Fort McMurray and area care about the environment.
With heavy focus on responsibly developing the oil sands, it’s no wonder that there’s a lot of attention paid to the environment. Whether it’s looking for new ways to minimize land disturbances, to speeding reclamation, industry employees do it with the knowledge that they’re contributing to the communities where they live and work. This spirit extends to the community, which has curbside recycling, waste diversion programs and was one of the first cities in Canada to completely ban the use of plastic bags in retail establishments (so if you’re visiting, don’t forget your reusable bags!).