United Conservative Party Leader hopeful Brian Jean was in Fort McMurray as part of his campaign.
On Friday, the Fort McMurray-Conklin MLA made his first public appearance since he announced his intent to run for leadership of the newly formed provincial party.
Jean spent most of the day talking to members of the public including holding a gathering at the Golden Year’s Society where many came to speak to the former Wildrose Leader.
Jean says, from his talks, he believes people in Fort McMurray are “hurting.”
“The residents are looking for change, they want to see less taxation, they want to see more hope, a better vision. This community has been completely devastated by the wildfire and price of oil.”
Though he sees the need for change, Jean notes the next premier will need to be fiscally responsible as the province is heading towards being “$90 million in debt.”
This could become a problem around Fort McMurray as the municipality continues to look for more funding to help with the recovery of the community.
“The money that does go to the government should be and have the best return on investment for Albertans and that does mean we allocate a proper priority in keeping those people (Fort McMurray) safe from wildfires and other emergencies,” added Jean.
Meanwhile, Jean took sometime on his short stay to visit Waterways and his property. His home was one of the many which were destroyed by the wildfire in the neighbourhood.
He says his personal rebuild has been put on hold while he focuses on his campaign.
“I’ve not had a lot of time to focus on that, I’ve talked to the municipality and we have had an application in for sometime for a home in Waterways, we will have to wait and see – I just don’t have the time right now.”
As of August 11, 997 building permits had been issued. Of the rebuilds that have started, 117 have had their final inspection – allowing families to move back to their properties.
Jean says the progress being made is “exciting.”