Society

Fort McMurray is located in Northern Alberta, on top of the largest oil sand deposits in the world – the Athabasca Oil Sands. It is a multicultural community, attracting people from all corners of the country and the world.

About fifty per cent of immigrants in Fort McMurray are Albertans, followed by seventeen per cent coming from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Fort McMurray had a population of 61,374 according to the 2011 Census; a 28.7% change from its 2006 population of 47,705.

In 2012, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s municipal census reported a population of 72,944 in Fort McMurray, which includes permanent and non-permanent populations of 70,964 and 1,980 residents respectively..

The city is a classic boomtown, where industry is dominated by one industry and population growth is sensitive to external economic factors like the price of oil.

Fort McMurray can be broken in two areas relative to the Athabasca River.  The portion southeast of the Athabasca River, colloquially known as “the Hill”, is predominately the older part of the city; the region north of the river is the newer residential area geared towards the middle and higher class residential housing. In addition to these, the development of the oil sands made mobile homes and apartments more prominent in the cultural landscape of Fort McMurray.

Economy

Fort McMurray is located near the Athabasca Oil Sands and is considered the heart of one of Alberta’s (and Canada’s) hubs of oil production. Besides the oil sands, the city’s economy includes natural gas and oil pipelines, forestry and tourism. Oil sand companies include Syncrude, Suncor Energy, CNRL, Shell, and Nexen.

It is expected that the oilsands are going to be the economic engine for Canada for the next 25 to 30 years.

Because of the booming economy, housing prices and rents are far higher in Fort McMurray than normally expected in such a remote area. Fort McMurray had the highest prices in Alberta in 2006.

As well, the growth of the economy and population in Fort McMurray has put an enormous strain on public infrastructure, including roads, bridges, schools, the airport, the water treatment plant, sewer system, recreational facilities and hospitals.

In order to ease the pressure, the provincial and municipal governments are planning to build numerous public sector infrastructure projects to cope with Fort McMurray’s rapid growth.

Finding a home

Finding a home in Fort McMurray shouldn’t be too difficult, however, rents are considered to be the highest in Canada and are continuing to rise, because of the continued flow of immigrants and workers coming to the region to work in the oilsands sector.

Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Fort McMurray is $2,229 per month; average home sale price is $769,153 for a single family unit.

To find rental apartments, you can check your local newspaper classifieds or online sites like Craigslist.

To purchase a home, contact a realtor in the area, who will guide you through the home-buying process.

Medical

As in other parts of Alberta, comprehensive health care services are available in Fort McMurray. Health care in the Wood Buffalo region is coordinated and delivered through Alberta Health Services, Northern Region, part of the Province’s health care system.

Many health services here are free for people who are covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP). People who do not have an AHCIP card must pay for health services. As a newcomer to Alberta, you can apply for the AHCIP three months before leaving your country of origin. If you are moving to Alberta from another province or territory in Canada, you can use Alberta health services until you are eligible for health insurance in the province.

The urban area of Fort McMurray offers a variety of community health and specialist services, in addition to a hospital and two medical centres. You can access primary care quickly here, as many Fort McMurray family doctors are accepting new patients. For some speciality services, however, you may need to travel to Edmonton.

Helpful links:

Hospital: Northern Lights Regional Health Centre

Facilities in rural communities in Wood Buffalo: Community Health Centres

List of family doctors and pediatricians: Wood Buffalo Primary Care Network

Family care (immunizations, dental health, etc.): Fort McMurray Public Health Building

Ambulance (paid): Emergency Health Services

Education

There are four school districts in Fort McMurray, as well as five colleges and universities, and lots of opportunities for training and upgrading in or near the city.

The public school districts in the Municipality have a total of 24 elementary and secondary schools in Fort McMurray, and six in the rural areas of Wood Buffalo.

Recreation

Though more famous for its employment opportunities, Fort McMurray is a unique and vibrant community, with people coming from all over the world to work, play and raise their families here.

There is always so much to do in Fort McMurray and the Wood Buffalo region:

Click here for a list of upcoming events and recreation facilities in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.