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How Partnerships Build a Community

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When the team at the Regional Recreation Corporation of Wood Buffalo began exploring the concept of Mi Day, a day allowing local schools to send a classroom of students to enjoy a day of free activities at MacDonald Island Park once a week, they knew they could not do it alone as the idea required a partner to develop it fully. Fortunately for the RRC, these kinds of partners are plentiful in the Wood Buffalo region, and ATB Financial stepped in to help create ATB Mi Day, a program providing local youth with an opportunity to explore sport, recreation and leisure activities as part of their school day.

ATB Mi Day is just one example of the remarkable partnerships the RRC has forged with business and industry, allowing the organization to deliver a wide range of facilities, programs and events that would not take place without this kind of partnership.

On June 13, 2015, the RRC hosted the furthest north game in CFL history when the Northern Kickoff presented by Shell took centre stage at SMS Equipment Stadium at Shell Place. Over 12,000 fans, community residents and visitors to the region were part of an event thanks to the support of a wide variety of community partners, including presenting partner Shell. Just the day before the Northern Kickoff, Shell Place celebrated the official grand opening of the facility, with dozens of Shell employees in attendance to steward over 2,000 community residents in the official ribbon cutting.

“Shell Place took three years to build and we’ve been so proud to be there from the outset as the naming partner,” said Peter Zebedee, General Manager Shell Albian Sands. “This facility is a major addition to our community infrastructure, providing outstanding quality of life for our employees, their families and the wider region.”

Without the support of industry and business in the Wood Buffalo region, much of which is directly linked to oil sands development, the RRC would not be able to develop the events, programs and facilities that community residents have come to rely on for quality of life.

“Wood Buffalo is a region where people come to live, work and play,” says Michael Cachia, Chair of the Board of Directors of the RRC. “The key word there is live, because this region and our communities are places that residents have chosen as their home. Our mandate is to ensure our residents, and visitors to this region, have an opportunity to experience sport, recreation and event excellence suitable to the quality of life we all want to find in the communities in which we reside.”

Partnerships are simply part of the RRC commitment to that quality of life, and the partnerships developed over time lead to new opportunities for the community as well as continued access to facilities that enrich the daily lives of the residents. The Syncrude Aquatic Centre is a prime example of one of these facilities, as one of the most popular amenities at MacDonald Island Park, and the partnership with Syncrude has extended into multiple events, including the Syncrude Elite 10, an inaugural Grand Slam of Curling event held in March, 2015.

“Syncrude invests in the communities where we operate and most of our 5,000 employees work and live in Fort McMurray. They relished the opportunity to watch world-class curlers match wits and shots on the same ice sheets where they play with their families and friends,” said Kara Flynn, Syncrude’s Vice President, Government & Public Affairs. “Sponsoring the Syncrude Elite 10 was an easy decision for us.”

Extending into rural communities and the Anzac Recreation Centre presented by Nexen Energy, a CNOOC Limited Company, the partnerships forged by the RRC and local industry and business seek to improve the quality of life for all residents in the region, including those in rural communities such as Anzac and the surrounding area.

“Giving back to the communities where Nexen operates has been of longstanding importance and the Anzac Recreation Centre is a reflection of that commitment,” says Bob Fennell, VP Operated Oil Sands, Canadian Operations. “It’s our belief that sponsorships like the Anzac Recreation Centre and CNOOC Nexen stage at MacDonald Island Park contribute to a stronger community and help build capacity in the Wood Buffalo Region.”

The oil sands industry and related businesses are a crucial component for the RRC and their ability to deliver the standard of excellence they seek to achieve – and they are grateful for the support.

“Thanks to our many community partners, from small local businesses to large international corporations, we have the opportunity to ensure all those who live in our region have access to top-quality sport, recreation, leisure and event experiences, building our community and contributing to making this an even better place to live,” says Cachia. “Everyone at the RRC, from the board members to our ONE Team staff, is incredibly grateful to our partners for their ongoing support.”


A freelance writer, blogger and professional communicator who is passionate about her child, her work, her pets, her community and the power of words, Theresa Wells believes perfection in life is achieved when she is surrounded by amazing people, fantastic stories, cold gin and really hot shoes.