Evidence of meeting #41 for Natural Resources in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was community.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Francis Bradley  Vice-President, Policy Development, Canadian Electricity Association
  • Peter Mackey  President and Chief Executive Officer, Qulliq Energy Corporation
  • Melissa Blake  Mayor, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

9:40 a.m.

Mayor, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

Melissa Blake

It would be great if we could get about 10 more doctors today.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Leon Benoit

Thank you, Mr. Jean.

Unfortunately, your time is up. We go now to Mr. Galipeau for up to five minutes, please.

June 5th, 2012 / 9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Thank you very much.

With your permission, Mr. Chair, I'll share my time with Mr. Anderson.

I have a question for Her Worship. You got up before the rooster this morning.

9:45 a.m.

Mayor, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

Melissa Blake

I got up at an hour that's unusual for me, but everybody else in Fort McMurray gets up at that time.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Did you get to hug your kids?

9:45 a.m.

Mayor, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

Melissa Blake

I didn't. If I don't get home until late tonight, I won't see them for a day.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

You have a problem that many mayors would like to have. It has to do with how you manage growth or how you manage development. How many jobs do you expect will be created in your district over the next five years?

9:45 a.m.

Mayor, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

Melissa Blake

I do population anticipation. I would say that in the next 20 years, I'm looking at a population of about 230,000. The population itself is divvied up between those who live and remain in the region versus the ones who come in for a temporary work assignment, if you will. There are commuters who come from all parts of Canada, and the number in my 2010 census was 23,000. This year it's 35,000 who live in camps and are here for temporary shift work.

When I look at a population of 230,000, again, many of them are here as commuters.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Thank you very much.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Leon Benoit

Mr. Anderson, go ahead, please.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Thank you. I don't have a lot of time here, but I think Mr. Daniel talked to Mr. McKay about the strong mentorships. Perhaps it was the mayor who talked about this strong mentorship in Fort McKay, and I'm just wondering if you could talk a little about what that looks like when you see a community that's done very well in this situation.

We've had quite a bit of testimony from further north, from communities that are really uncertain about how they will move ahead and engage with the economy, how they will move ahead and advance the education of their people so they can get employment.

Can you give us a bit of an overview of what the Fort McKay leadership has done so that their people can really enjoy the benefits of what's going on in your area?

9:45 a.m.

Mayor, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

Melissa Blake

I'm going to do it from the perspective I had when I was just a kid getting into the workforce. At the time, our leaders in the organization were Eric Newell and Jim Carter. Eric was passionate about being able not only to employ first nations individuals but also to give them the economic opportunity that would advance them.

In the community of Fort McKay, it's a tough reconciliation. The time is not long past when traditional living was very much a part of the everyday life for members of the first nation. I think a dramatic shift in interest came from understanding that the land was going to change before them and that adaptation was what was going to ensure survival.

The necessity in the region has always been about having completed at least grade 12 education. You wouldn't be able to get a job on-site unless you had that qualification. This automatically, if you were looking for those opportunities, forced a higher completion rate for high school.

There are still struggles with that. The way they got students engaged was to bring in some incredible people—the principal at the school, the teachers they brought in. There was a period of time when they had very strong school support that helped the youth be able to step into that situation.

When I go to the community I look at elders. These elders have actually lived the lifestyle, as I say, of the past, but they're also the business company owners who are bosses of all these folks who are part of the band and others who come in for the opportunity. For me, having watched that transformation, really in about the last 20 years, has been phenomenal.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

It seems from the conversations we've had here that encouraging the young people to stay in school and getting them through to that grade 12 level is really the key to the future development of the communities in the next generation.

Is it realistic to say that?

9:45 a.m.

Mayor, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

Melissa Blake

I would say it is, absolutely. One thing is starting earlier in the schools. They have something called the registered apprenticeship training program. If students are interested in pursuing trades, they get the first year of their journeyman certificate as they complete their high school. It's a marrying up of the two initiatives, school and work, at the same time.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Thank you. That has been a topic of conversation a number of times.

Mr. Bradley, I'd like you to talk a bit. You mentioned the future of micro or mini grids. I wonder if you could tell us a little about how you see their being constructed and used. Perhaps Mr. Mackey could also talk to this. You were talking about these little grids that would be set up. You have great distances. How do you see that system working?