Today, January 22, 2019, Mayor and Council will be presented with a motion effectively asking that a moratorium on camp accommodations within 120km of Fort McMurray be put in place. We thought it was important to respond to many of our members' concerns.
The Chamber of Commerce Movement, which dates back to the 1700's, is based on supporting legislation that promotes and furthers business. The issue at hand is a very contentious one whereby some of our members may benefit from increased population but others may be harmed. Ultimately, the root of our existence as a Chamber is to reduce the burden on business, whether that be in the form of reduced taxes, processes, bylaws, or any other form.
The Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce has prided itself on our history of Advocacy and Collaborations with our members, all levels of Government and the industry that is the heart beat of our region.
Firstly, we would like to thank all those of you who provided feedback during our luncheon last week and also through the online survey. We are your voice and understanding your positions is extremely important in aiding us to advocate on your behalf.
While we wholeheartedly agree that our community has faced a declining economy and suffered some serious blows in the past few years, we do not believe that we have all the answers to support the proposed motion. More so, it is unclear that this motion will solve the true issue that it appears to be aimed at.
We fully support having as many operational (non-construction) workforce be permanent residents within the RMWB; this is the key to the long term sustainability in our region. The challenge is that our investigation has led to more questions than answers. Will the end to work camps increase the number of people who choose to move to Fort McMurray and increase the quality of life in town?
What will the effect be on businesses who serve the camps and those individuals that work for the camps but live within our community?
How will the taxes that are currently paid be replaced?
How many households do we need to move here to offset a potential loss?
Would this cause increases in costs for Industry, and ultimately result in Industry making decisions against capital projects?
We felt that that the comments to our questionnaire were the most relevant to the discussion. Many respondents were undecided as whether to support or not support the motion as presented, and some extremely valid points were raised showing opinions that differ, but all were very valid.
"Promotes residency in the RMWB and the development of a greater community level economy"
"We depend on support from both polarities for financial survival"
"The economy is poor. Let's not add more red tape to companies trying to do business in our area. Also to travel 1.5 hours to and then from work, after working a 12 hour shift is ridiculous. There would be no quality of life for these employees. We don't need to go back to the days of illegal suites in many homes."
"I am not able to offer an opinion as I do not know adequate information which would support an answer."
"It will directly affect my business that I have spent 14 years building. It will, in fact, put me out of business as I operate one of those project accommodations."
"It is important to grow this area not just fly in and fly out and never even see the area."
While we do agree that this proposal has spurred good discussion and debate, seemingly our members do not have the necessary information to fully understand the implications of this motion. We have repeatedly asked for access to the process and have been told that external stakeholders will be brought in when things are sorted out.
The Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce would be happy to see a professional negotiating team be appointed by the RMWB to negotiate a solution with Industry and bring this matter to a prompt conclusion.
We encourage our members to have their voices heard and can attend and participate in this evening's Municipal Council Meeting at Jubilee Plaza at 4pm.
Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce