“Things that are built locally are built better.”
That was a comment from Councillor Phil Meagher at the special meeting of council Wednesday afternoon when discussing a business recovery plan for the region. The importance of using local companies has been stressed by the RMWB and local contractors after word got around that some contracts were asking for Ottawa-area applications.
The Government of Alberta has heard the message, and today affirmed their commitment to using local companies in the rebuild.
“Our government is committed to supporting Fort McMurray residents throughout the recovery,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs Danielle Larivee in a statement. “Part of that is ensuring local residents and businesses can find work helping to rebuild their community.”
The government will be giving preference to local companies when they open up bidding for contracts in the rebuild process. The announcement came after a meeting between government officials, the RMWB, the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce, Athabasca Tribal Council, and other business and NGO stakeholders.
Many local business leaders voiced their eagerness to get to work at council on Wednesday. UDI Wood Buffalo provided a nearly 10 minute presentation on the resources their members will have available during the process, including hundreds of serviced lots ready for housing in Parson Creek, Saline Creek, and Stone Creek.
According to Emergency Management Director Bob Couture, several business owners have been attempting to get into the city before the evacuation is lifted to make sure they are ready. Unfortunately this is taking away from current relief operations, as police and the municipality have to spend time turning these businesses away. The municipality is only letting those deemed as “essential services” into town at the time, and that classification comes on an invitation-only basis.
Couture asked business leaders on Thursday to be patient and wait until re-entry officially begins next week.