Member of Legislative Assembly Report
By Brian Jean, Leader of the Oficial Opposition
2016 will go down in history as one of the most challenging years for our community. It has certainly tested us.
Coming into the year, our community was feeling the effects of slumping oil prices, many of our residents lost their jobs … people were unemployed or underemployed … businesses were struggling …. Then the forest fire hit and we had the most unfortunate distinction of becoming one of the worst disasters in not only Alberta, but across this vast country.
The heartache as people fled from their homes and the emotional turmoil on returning to find their homes gone or badly damaged while others came back with relief to find theirs still standing, some requiring thorough cleaning, while others required little if any remediation.
While we see countless stories on how much this disaster has cost in terms of insurance claims, there is little mention of the human costs; what it’s done to our emotional and mental wellbeing, our own financial circumstances as we grapple with insurance and trying to make ends meet as residents continue making mortgage payments while paying rent to live during the rebuild.
The demands on our food bank have been off the chart; the use of programs and services of other social profits such as The Salvation Army and United Way have dramatically increased.
We have all been overwhelmed by the countless Albertans and Canadians who opened their hearts, their homes and their wallets to provide much needed support to the people of Fort McMurray in a time of their greatest need.
We met young men with a trailer full of jerry cans giving away free gas to help families stranded on the highway when they ran out of gas … fire crews just coming off 24-hour shifts ready and willing to get
From a small town of 1,500 to nearly 100,000 people today, we have known both boom and bust. We are a people that work hard and cherish our time in the great outdoors. We are a city to which people come from great distances to seek opportunity. We are a city with heart and a city that cares deeply about looking after each other and making our community a better place. And during the festive season, that is the best gift of all.
Fire may be a formidable force of nature that took our homes and damaged our lives, but it can never take away our spirit.
After the fire, the silver lining in this rebuild was that Ft McMurray could be built better than before, more beautiful. As we go through the planning and rebuilding process, we have an opportunity to make those words come true. Reconstruction efforts have finally begun in Waterways. RMWB council has a chance to install the same quality of public infrastructure in Waterways as in other Fort McMurray neighbourhoods by providing the community with buried utilities.
This rebuild in many ways will define our future as we once again establish ourselves as Canada’s economic engine
Brian Jean is the Leader for the Official Opposition Party and Member of Legislative for Fort McMurray-Conklin. Jean can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 780-588-7979.
– Connect Weekly –