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Compare & Contrast

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Every issue we’ll compare Fort McMurray to another town or city in Canada. The facts will be quirky, off the wall, and quite interesting, just like YMM-ers!

How does YMM stack up against: Banff

One of them is expensive, filled with the rich and their expensive toys, yet home to some of the most breathtaking outdoor life in Western Canada, with wild animals, trails and the great Canadian outdoors right at your back step, and the other is Banff.

Let’s just get the ski thing out the way right now. Admittedly, Banff is one of the top destinations in the world, right up there with Aspen, St. Moritz, Whistler and Ben Macdhui. While Vista Ridge does an excellent job given the paucity of scale available, Banff does win this head-to-head competition, just.

But, and I’m just throwing this out there, if we had the mountains they have, we’d have done a better job.

Campsites and RV spots. Banff has nearly 2,500 of them, counter intuitive when you remember it’s a winter destination. Fort McMurray has about a tenth of that number, not that you’d know because the final spot available was rented out in 2002, and the only time they change hands now is in last wills and testaments.

Banff National Park is home to the following seven historic sites: 1) Skoki Lodge, 2) Abbot Pass Hut, 3) Howse Pass, 4)Cave and Basin Hot Springs, 5) Banff Park Museum, 6) Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, and the 7) Cosmic Ray Station.

Fort McMurray has the following future collection: 1) Chez Dube Country Inn, 2) The Doug Barnes Cabin, 3) Supertest Hill, 4) The hot tubs at Mac Island, 5) The Discovery Centre, 6) The Sawridge, and the 7) Aurora Borealis. It’s close, but I think an unbiased viewpoint will see that Fort McMurray edges this one 4-3.

More than 4-million visitors travel to Banff every year. While not actually so, it does sometimes seem as if that many people use 63.

Banff was used as an internment camp in the First World War. Immigrants from Hungary, Ukraine, Austria, and Germany were deemed to be “enemy aliens” and imprisoned on Castle Mountain. Fort McMurray had American soldiers stationed here in the Second World War. Enemy Aliens? Gum-chewing GIs? Which was worse? You decide.

Banff National Park is the most visited park in Canada. Wood Buffalo National park is the least visited, which also means it is the most exclusive.

Autumn brings the exotic sounds of rutting Elk in the forests around the town of Banff.

Fort McMurray? Well, with the highest birth rate per capita in Canada, you might say that we are not exactly in a rut ourselves.

Banff has a special law called the ‘need to reside’ clause which states that in order to live there you need to have a job there. In Fort McMurray, it’s not that formally stated. But in order to be able to afford to live here you need a job here; and sometimes two or three of them.

In Banff, the nightlife is pretty exotic and you could very easily spot Hollywood B-listers or even people from Toronto. In Fort McMurray, Tuesday night is the time to spot Councillor Boutilier either coming into or going out of town.

Banff has eco-friendly ‘Roam’ buses. Fort McMurray has eco-friendly ‘Woosh’ buses. Woosh is the cooler name.

Banff has art museums, art galleries, upmarket art dealers, and world renowned courses, shows and events. Fort McMurray has a corridor at Mac Island and a basement at Keyano. But check back here again in two years and see the miracles that the Arts Council hath wrought.

Despite the better Arts scene and nightlife, Banff is still edged out as a place to live by Fort McMurray. Banff is a great place to go and spend money, but to earn it you’re better off coming here.