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Enviro Week

Environment Week 2019: FMEC Seeks New Recruits for This Year’s Campaign

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The Fort McMurray Environment Committee (FMEC) is currently preparing for a community relaunch of Environment Week for June after putting activities on hold for three years.

FMEC was in the final planning stages in April 2016 to host their scheduled events in June. However, after the Horse River Wildfire, the Committee had a substantial decrease in its members due to relocating and other personal reasons.

“We’ve had a few setbacks since the Wildfire, and our biggest hurdle is our lack of committee members,” said Dawn Booth, President of FMEC, who has been with the group since 2008.

“Going forward, our focus is recruitment. We went from over a dozen residents on the committee to four. We need the extra hands and help to plan and execute the volunteer work we take part in.”

FMEC is responsible for planning the local Environment Week. In the past, they have partnered with community groups, the municipality and provincial government to host events like the Tower Road Clean-Up, Clearwater River Clean-up, the Abasand Historical Hike, Plant Swap and many others.

As for the 2019 Environment Week, the group of four are in the preliminary stages of planning and have shared they intend to hold a clean-up during E-Week on the Abasand trail.

“We know this is one of the hardest hit communities by the Wildfire and understand that backtrail clean-up hasn’t been a priority during the rebuilds, for obvious reasons,” said Booth.

“We are unsure of the involvement we will have, so taking on a clean-up like Tower Road is something we aren’t ready to manage. As for the area surrounding the Clearwater River, it has had a lot of improvement with the Syne River Point Park put in place.”

The committee members are inviting anyone who wants to help out to meet with them during their recruitment information session. The meeting takes place on May 2 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Red Poll Centre at the Shell Place.

“It’s a great way to get involved with our community and meet like-minded individuals,” said Karen Puga, Vice President of FMEC.

Puga has been with FMEC since 2006 and has initiated clean-ups throughout the city. With a long-standing career in community beautification and public works with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, she remains committed to the committee and understands the importance of keeping it active to motivate others to be environmentally conscious.

“It’s an opportunity to do what I can to be green and promote environmental awareness,” she explained. “We all need to do our part.”

Chris Beierling works at Syncrude Canada in the environmental research department and has been volunteering with FMEC since 2007.

He explained the FMEC’s presence is needed because of the actions the members take part in and the on-going work that needs attention.

“The committee has done some much-needed good work with a great group of different people over the past two decades,” said Beierling, Treasurer of FMEC. “The need is still there, and there are still people in Fort Mac who are looking for the opportunity to do something good for their community and the environment.”

The majority of their involvement has been organizing group clean-ups in wetland and backcountry areas, as Booth explained.

“Our clean-up events at the Clearwater River and Tower Road have had a lot of success in the past as we took out hundreds of pounds of garbage out of these areas, and it wasn’t easy,” she said. “Thanks to our community partners with multiple societies and clubs, we’ve been able to do this.”

As for informing the public on environmental awareness, Valerie O’Leary joined the Committee in 2014 after she was invited to take part in one of the FMEC’s events to educate residents on the AdventureSmart program, which is a national prevention program focused on reaching Canadians who participate in outdoor recreational activities. She has also been volunteering with Search and Rescue for over 22 years.

“It’s super important to continue and revitalize this committee because it partners with many others and pulls us all together to help support the cause,” said O’Leary. “This is my home and anything we can do, big or small, to help the environment and all living in it can make a difference.”

The committee is asking clubs, societies and organizations who are planning to host a program or event during Environment Week from June 2 to June 8, 2019, to contact them directly on Facebook or call 780-972-2407.

For residents interested in learning more, go to FMEC’s Recruitment Information Session on May 2 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Red Poll Centre at the Shell Place.