Timberlea - courtesy of Gord McKenna
As promised, here are 10 great things about my home, Fort McMurray…
This city is teeming with diversity. I reckon you will hear more languages and see more cultures in the Timmy’s lineup on Hardin St. than you would at the Timothy’s lineup on Young and Queen. (Hopefully the municipality will soon update their Regional Profile to reflect this.)
Though not news to those of us who live here, Fort McMurray residents have time and time again shown how important they hold community wellness. In fact, Fort McMurray has been called “the most giving community in Canada”.
Last year, the Fort McMurray United Way raised over $5,000,000, and the recently held Spring Fling with Chef Michael Smith raised over $245,000 for the Northern Lights Health Foundation that will go towards new anesthesia machines for the region.
3. The MOB
courtesy of wikipedia.org
Tonight, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (known affectionally as the MOB) begin a best of seven series against the Spuce Grove Saints in the Alberta Junior Hockey League finals for the Enerflex Cup. The puck drops tonight at 7 p.m. at the Grant Fuhr Arena in Spruce Grove. The MOB will be coming home for games 3 and 4 on the 5th and 7th. “AJHL Wait Is Over” /via Edmonton Sun. You can listen to the game via Country 93.3.
4. Outdoor Gym / Birchwood Trails
Boreal Backyard - courtesy of Gord McKenna
Bet you didn’t know that Fort McMurray is home to Canada’s largest outdoor gym… did you? Well, the Birchwood trail system is the home to the gym that “features 53 units of exercise equipment including the latest in wheelchair-accessible equipment.” (source) Not bad eh? Granted, I haven’t yet pumped iron while it was minus 37, but just the fact that it’s right in the middle of over 20 km of boreal forest trails… which is quite literally located in our backyards…
5. Outdoor Activities
And speaking of the outdoor trails, how about some of the clubs that embrace the outdoor majesty that is the boreal forest? While there are many, two that spring to mind are the Wood Buffalo Adventure Club and the Ptarmigan Ski Club. If you enjoy hiking, canoeing and wilderness survival, the WBAC is your club. If you’re a cross country skier, then check out the PSC.
6. A “Pretty” Good Place To Live
Last year, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) was a National Finalist and won 5 Blooms from Communities in Bloom. The RMWB was proud to be in the company of other such finalist communities like Kamloops, Chatham-Kent, Lethbridge, Sarnia and Kawartha Lakes.
Communities in Bloom is a “Canadian non-profit organization committed to fostering civic pride, environmental responsibility and beautification through community involvement and the challenge of a national program, with focus on the promotion and value of green spaces in urban settings.” (RMWB bloom profile)
7. Oil Sands Discovery Centre
The OSDC is a fantastic place to learn about what is bringing the world to our doorstep. Here, you can find out about the Athabasca Oil Sands – how it was formed, how it was discovered and how it is being developed. The friendly staff might even give you an up close and personal demonstration of the bitumen extraction process…
8. World-Class Community Facilities
With the RMWB finishing construction of the MacDonald Island Recreation centre, Fort McMurray will be home to two pretty fantastic recreational facilities. In September of 2007, Keyano College officially opened the Syncrude Sport & Wellness Centre to the public. And soon, with the completed redevelopment of MacDonald Island Park, the community will have access to:
- aquatics facility including a 54 meter-10 lane pool, a 25 meter-4 lane pool and leisure aquatics
- NHL-sized arena
- public library
- 2 field houses
- 240 meter running track
- fitness facility
- children’s playground
- child minding area
9. Career Opportunities & Experience
The opportunity for professional growth and challenge in the region cannot be understated. We’re home to some of the most dynamic and technology-driven employers in the world, and qualified workers are in high demand. Even if you’re not directly involved in the oil sands trade, this recent CBC article shows that there are many positions needed in order to support this growing, northern community.
10. We’ve Got Big Spirit
Canada Day Parade 2005 - courtesy of Michael Hallca
Let’s be honest – the region has had some pretty bad press over the past couple of years. For instance, I would be curious to see what the local subscription rate to Chatelaine magazine is. You see, back in 2006, the magazine printed a pretty scathing article about the town – I won’t link to the article in question, but you can read a reaction here.
So in response to both one-sided articles and some of the misinformation floating around the world, the RMWB launched Big Spirit, which in the words of Kelly Kloss, RMWB Acting Chief Administrative Officer, “is one example of the many new and improved services that the municipality is proud to provide residents and community stakeholder.”
You can visit the Big Spirit website and you can also download the Big Spirit Magazine for more information.
And There You Have It
And there you have – 10 of the many great things about our region. I’d love to see some comments posted about other great things that didn’t make this particular list.
(Want more information about great things in our region? Check out the Community Guide to Recreation, Arts & Culture – Spring & Summer 2010)