Work Camp Moratorium Rejected By Council

The proposed moratorium on work camps within 75km of Fort McMurray is no longer moving forward.

Wood Buffalo council voted against first reading of the motion on Tuesday with a tie 5-5 vote. Councillors Verna Murphy, Sheila Lalonde, Claris Voyageur, Krista Balsom, and Mike Allen all voted against.

Last week, Murphy brought forward a motion to rescind the moratorium, however, she was one vote short.

Speaking to reporters, she says the moratorium isn’t something we need right now.

“We really need to try and figure out how to get investors to come to our region and I think a moratorium was scaring, I know that projects were delayed, we had it in writing from some companies.”

Murphy also believes plans from the provincial government to help increase investment such as the carbon tax will do wonders for the region and bringing in a moratorium would just cancel it.

Mayor Don Scott originally brought forward a motion to eliminate all work camps within 120 km of Fort McMurray back in January, however, it was denied and replaced with the 75 km moratorium.

His main argument was the moratorium would increase the community’s population which would create a boom for the local economy.

Scott says he’s disappointed but accepts the outcome.

“I have to respect the decision of council and that’s a decision all my colleagues together need to make – they were each voted in to make sure they were voting to represent their constituents.”

Scott didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing another motion forward at a later date, but before that happens he wants to see what direction the public wants to take.

Executive Director of the Oil Sands Community Alliance Karim Zariffa says this decision will help ease the tension between the two sides.

“We’re still planning on continuing our efforts with administration and the three sub-groups, so despite the first reading being defeated we’re not going anywhere and we’ll continue to collaborate with administration.”

He added oil companies are still committed to lowering their FIFO numbers to help the municipality reach their goal of them representing 10 per cent of the region’s population. Right now, they account for around 29 per cent.

Meanwhile, council is still working with industry on offering incentives to fly-in-fly-out workers. They include tax incentives and work to improve highway safety.

The horseshoe also passed first reading of another motion to change regulations for work camps moving forward.

The big change would be the maximum lifespan for a permit capping at four years. Right now, the municipality can approve any number, however, over the past 10 years or so they averaged around five years.

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