Local politicians at Fort McMurray voted to impose a moratorium on nearby labor camps, which began to determine life in the oil sands of Alberta.
This week, advisers to Wood Buffalo Regional Municipality, located in the northern part of Alberta, which includes Fort McMurray and dozens of oil sands sites, voted to prohibit new labor camps and prohibit upgrading existing camps 75 km from the town center workers will develop a charter that will return to the council for public hearings and voting in the coming months.
This proposal has become a hot spot in a region where the economy is inextricably linked to oil sands, but local leaders complained that the industry has tens of thousands of workers who have no real connection with the community. Oil producers warned board members that a moratorium would damage the industry, which is already struggling because of low oil prices.
Mayor Don Scott, who was elected in 2017 with a promise to reduce the region’s dependence on workers flying by air, initially proposed a moratorium within a radius of 120 km.
According to him, the maintenance of workers in the camps means that they do not spend money on local enterprises and do not participate in the housing market, where last year there was an increase in vacancies and falling prices.
“It became a situation when people worked in our region, took wages, left and had no connection with the region,” he said in an interview.
"If you are going to live within 75 kilometers [of Fort McMurray]Come live with us and see what an amazing region this is. ”
The policy, if adopted in its current form, will prohibit new labor camps and prohibit the extension of the existing camps, in some of which the validity of their current permits expires in 2022. The municipality estimates that there are 61 camps in which more than 27,000 people work. within 75 km of Fort McMurray.
This week's traffic provides for exceptions for repair camps, stops and sites that are not accessible by road.
Mr. Scott said that the camps will be shut down over the next few years.
“It will be a huge reboot, and it will take time,” he said.
Several oil sands producers, including Suncor and Imperial Oil, have sent officials to council meetings earlier this month to oppose this proposal.
Suncory Indigenous and Community Director Wood Buffalo, Tracy Walsey, said the company already has 5,000 employees who live and work in Fort McMurray, but for many of its employees it would be inappropriate to remove them from mining and exploration.
“We know that these workers are better served and we are better off if they are close to our operations,” Ms. Wolsey said in an interview.
“We need to be flexible and fast so that these people are there when we need them.”
Ms. Wolsey also said that the policy poses security risks if workers are forced to travel long distances before the shift begins. While the board offers traffic within a radius of 75 kilometers, a trip to one of the company's sites can take up to two hours.
“We have 12-hour shifts at this site, and we need our people to be ready for work there,” she said.
Karim Zariffa, executive director of the Oil Sands Community Alliance, said the moratorium would have unintended consequences and could actually harm employment in the region and at Fort McMurray.
He noted that the camps collectively pay more than $ 14 million. USA per year for municipal taxes and make up a significant proportion of air traffic through the main airport of the region.
“As far as we are concerned, the moratorium on the camps is, in essence, a moratorium on development,” said Mr. Zariffa.