Nov
24
2017
Volume
6-1

ERIN O’NEILL

(4 votes)

“I am most proud of the work that I did on the re-entry and rebuilding following the wildfire.”

She’s lived here for 10 years. Her proudest moment came when she was asked to be the Chief of Planning for re-entry after the fire of 2016. It was a huge task, but one that she was up to. Life has been all about re-this and re-that since then. First, it was re-entry, then it was recovery and now it is all about the rebuild.

An urban planner by profession, Erin was working in the Lands Trust department of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, and was away at a seminar the day the fire hit YMM. Since then, while others have been the public face of the region, Erin has been working, behind the scenes mostly, to help the community recover. Her job is a large part of her life and in her spare time, she has been a volunteer with the APPI, The Alberta Professional Planners Institute. Over the years she has held the communications and marketing portfolio, been the conference co-chair, the event that would change awards committee chair and just one month before the event that would change her life, she became the APPI President.

No pressure at all.

What were the first few days and weeks like? Her official position, Chief of Planning for the Regional Emergency Operations Center, meant she was in charge of all re-entry procedures — creating a Recovery Task Force, getting critical businesses like pharmacies and grocery stores up and running, and eventually helping people back into their homes. “You know when you go on vacation? You turn out your lights and gas. We did everything for the whole city and then had to turn it back on again,” she said. Born in Kinburn, Ontario, Erin has been in Alberta for 10 years. What does she love most about YMM? “The people,” she said. “It’s all about the people.”

YOUR McMURRAY TEAM

Your McMurray Team is a collaboration of authors and contributors from in and around Fort McMurray.

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