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Good Cop / Bad Cop

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Good Cop: Truly the best community

Recently I was in a different part of the country that will remain unnamed, and the discussion turned to what’s truly required to have a great community. Of course, these fine folks would never believe Fort McMurray could ever be such a place, but as the conversation progressed it became pretty clear we fit the bill quite nicely.

See, we have a long way to go when it comes to developing the liveable City Centre that will take our community to the next level, and while there are direct and indirect benefits to that development, many of the upcoming changes are aesthetic and subjective in nature.

We might not be the heartbeat of Canadian culture or feature a Stanley Park or Rideau Canal, but we easily have the best people. And when it comes right down to it, it is that reality that is the foundation that will drive us in the decades to come as we grow.

We all know the United Way data that proves we have the been the most giving community per capita in Canada for almost 10 years, but it’s in the day-to-day that I see us as truly the best community.

A lot can be said for how the June flood was handled; however, there’s no doubt the typical resident stepped up to the plate. Just days later, it was almost surreal to see the level of support at the annual Kids Forever golf tournament dinner – keep in mind the donations that take place are impromptu and no tax receipts are ever issued. This level of generosity is simply never seen anywhere else. Period.

Thing is, this attitude is prevalent every day in Fort McMurray. It’s who we are, and I don’t think anyone can beat us when it comes to what truly matters.

Bad Cop: Almost the best community

Recently I moved to a different part of the country that will remain unnamed, and the discussion is constantly turning to what it’s like to live in Fort McMurray. And while I’m proud to say that I truly believe we have turned a corner, image wise, in many pockets outside of Wood Buffalo (ie. How many times lately I’ve heard “I hear there’s so much to do there”), I’m afraid my caution to others as to what is hindering Fort McMurray from getting to the next level isn’t the people, the environmental misconceptions, or the national/international political landscape; but it is, in fact, the inner workings of the RMWB itself.

To truly have a great community, leadership needs to come by example from those at the top. On the democratic side, I’m proud to say I’ve seen that. A cohesive, productive, forward-thinking council have done their constituents proud. We have a visionary for a mayor and a balanced council around her. But the biggest misconception WITHIN the municipality (let’s not beat the dead horse of the misconceptions from outside anymore), it is the lack of differentiation between council and OTHER “powers-that-be” in senior administration. Too often when a ball gets dropped by admin, council and our mayor see an unfair portion of the blame. And lately, there’s been a lot of ball dropping.

We have wonderful ideas generated in many circles of the RMWB (our Mayor isn’t the only visionary), but when ideas are just that, and application of said ideas don’t ever come to fruition, some people get frustrated and reference a “circle jerk of idea sharing” that is just spinning in circles. To truly grow and improve, a culture of action and “doing” needs to rise above just idea sharing. While you can argue in many ways that Wood Buffalo IS a place of “doing”, senior admin have established an unfortunate and concerning precedent of taking steps backwards while trying to move forward.

From the Draper Road/Dunvegan Gardens small event controversy to serve the wishes of a powerful few; to green-lit expropriation that allegedly was not accompanied with adequate studies or proper diligence; to the insulting and ridiculous misinformation provided in opposition of establishing a Mixed Martial Arts bylaw; questionable decision after questionable decision has been made behind closed doors and the growth of Wood Buffalo has suffered.

This IS a great city. There IS a ton of potential to be excellent. There IS an intangible magic within the city limits. But before the RMWB can become the best community it CAN be, some of the powers-that-be need to get out of their own way and begin better leading by example.

The dreaming is there but the doing needs to be done better. We have an unbelievable (big) spirit and the right attitude is prevalent. Nobody can beat us at what truly matters, but unfortunately, the only thing in the way is the possibility of beating ourselves.


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