Weekly update: RCMP launch manhunt, social profits struggle and no Alberta Summer Games

The news and events of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo.

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Happy weekend, Fort McMurray!

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  • Fort McMurray Oil Barons: The MOB face the Olds Grizzlys on Dec. 9 and 10 at Centerfire Place. Dec. 9 game starts at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 10 game at 2:30 p.m. Tickets and schedule online.
  • Toys for Tickets: If you get a Winter Maintenance Zone or time parking ticket until Dec. 8 and pay the fine by Dec.11, the money will go towards the Salvation Army’s Adopt-a-Family program. More than $30,000 has been raised since 2016. More information is at the RMWB.
  • Jess Moskaluke—Winter Wonderland Tour: Country music artist Jess Moskaluke brings her Christmas-themed Winter Wonderland tour to Fort McMurray. Moskaluke promises an unforgettable evening of country music excellence that showcases her remarkable voice, pop-infused hooks and engaging stage presence. Dec. 12 at Keyano Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are online.
  • Mean Girls: The Musical: Dec. 14-16 at Ecole McTavish High School. This totally fetch show is $15 for adults and $10 for students.
  • Nominate Your Neighbour: Wood Buffalo Communities in Bloom wants you to nominate businesses or homes in your neighbourhood with festive light displays and decorations. Deadline for submissions is Dec. 15. More information is at the RMWB.

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Anton Grandjambe, 21, of Fort McKay. Image supplied by Wood Buffalo RCMP

Police searching for man accused of fatally shooting 60-year-old man in Fort McKay

Police have charged Anton Grandjambe, 21, with the second degree murder of Russell John Shott, 60. Both men are from Fort McKay.

Wood Buffalo RCMP are still looking for Grandjambe. He is considered armed and dangerous, and police are warning people not to approach Grandjambe if he is seen.

On the morning of Dec. 5, police were called to a firearms complaint in Fort McKay on Target Road. Residents in the area were told to shelter in place. It is believed Shott was trying to break up an altercation when he was gunned down.

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This is the fifth reported homicide of 2023 in the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo region.

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The Salvation Army’s branch in Fort McMurray Alta. on Saturday January 30, 2016. Vince Mcdermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

Fort McMurray’s social profits challenged in 2023 as donations continued dropping

Donations to social profits in the region have dropped by 33 per cent over the last five years and 47 per cent in 2023.

Layoffs, economic uncertainty and the rising cost of living has stretched the resources of many organizations in the region.

Council was warned underfunding social services creates more problems with crime, addictions, poverty and different forms of abuse.

“The reality is that when donations decline, the need for social services actually go up. Without services the cost to our community grows exponentially,” said Bob MacKay, the 2023 community campaign chair for United Way.

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It is, in fact, the social profit sector that provides essential programs and services that save the municipality millions of dollars each year by preventing and treating issues at a fraction of the cost.”

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Volunteers drop off food at the Wood Buffalo Food Bank in Fort McMurray Alta. on Saturday November 28, 2015. Garrett Barry/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

Wood Buffalo Food Bank wraps up weekend drive, food insecurity a growing local crisis

The Wood Buffalo Food Bank raised more than $247,000 and 37,741 lbs. of food at their weekend food drive. However, this falls short of their goals of $300,000 and 80,000 lbs. of food.

The food bank’s leadership says more help is needed to fight food insecurity, a problem they say is getting worse in the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo area.

Despite the results, the food bank is still calling this weekend’s food drive a success. A statement from the food bank points out “we are further ahead of where we started and will do as Fort McMurray does and show our resilience and continue to FeedYMM.”

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In his 12 years with the food bank, executive director Dan Edwards says this is the busiest he has seen demand. The food bank is sending out roughly 900 monthly hampers, he said.

The opening ceremonies of the 2018 Alberta Summer Games in the City and County of Grande Prairie. Image supplied by 2018 Alberta Summer Games

Fort McMurray loses bid for 2026 Alberta Summer Games to Strathcona County

Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo is not hosting the 2026 Alberta Summer Games after the Alberta government announced Wednesday that the winning bid went to Strathcona County.

However, encouraging local sports tourism is still a priority for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) and Fort McMurray’s athletic community.

The Alberta government asked the RMWB to bid on the games after the region hosted the Arctic Winter Games in February. In June, council unanimously approved creating a committee to pitch hosting the event to Alberta Games.

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The RMWB would have spent $2.6 million from the emerging issues reserve following a successful bid for the games.

The RMWB’s Sport Strategic Plan says Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo is well prepared for sports tourism and athletic events. Most sports facilities were built or upgraded within the past 15 years. There is a sprawling trail system maintained year-round. The airport can handle international flights.

Suncor’s base plant with upgraders in the oil sands in Fort McMurray Alta, on Monday June 13, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

‘Albertans will not tolerate it’: Smith reacts to new federal oil and gas emissions cap

The Alberta government is pushing back against Ottawa’s newly announced framework for a cap-and-trade system that’s designed to have the oil and gas industry cut emissions by more than one-third from 2019 levels by 2030.

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The framework was published early Thursday with draft regulations to projected come in the spring ahead of final regulations slated to be put in place in 2025.

It states the oil-and-gas sector will have to reduce emissions from 35 to 38 per cent below 2019 levels by 2030, while also claiming that wouldn’t necessarily amount to a production cap.

Those proportions can be reduced to between 20 and 23 per cent through either the purchase of carbon credits, or via contributions to a decarbonization fund.

“We owe it to Canadians and to the rest of the world to address these emissions, as we owe it to our workers and businesses to ensure that Canada’s well earned reputation for energy innovation remains our strong suit for the 21st century,” said federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault.

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“Albertans will not tolerate it. Our province is simply done with what amounts to a steady stream of economic sanctions and punitive measures thrown upon our citizens and businesses to intentionally damage their livelihoods,” said Premier Danielle Smith.

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Brad Love at an event near the Snye River in Fort McMurray on Sunday, March 1, 2020. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network SunMedia

Man with hate crime history guilty of slashing tires, gluing racist posters to vehicles

Bradley Love, 65, was found guilty of slashing tires of vehicles where he had seen at least one person of colour as an occupant. In two cases, Love glued posters that said “Keep Canada White” to vehicles.

He then plead guilty to mischief and failure to comply with an undertaking in two separate trials.

Love represented himself and argued in his closing statements that the Crown’s evidence was “conjecture from wannabe detectives.” He also said there was no proof any tires were slashed. He argued witness testimonies were unreliable because people stare at their phones in public.

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The judge disagreed. Love showed no sympathy for his victims or remorse for his actions, and was angry when he was told he had to listen to victim impact statements.

Love remains in custody since August for allegedly making threatening comments about planes at the Fort McMurray International Airport. That trial is scheduled for December 2024.

Love made headlines in 2003 after pleading guilty to sending racist and antisemitic letters to politicians, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies and York Region’s police chief.

Love was given an 18-month sentence. At the time, this sentence was the toughest handed down in Canada for promoting hatred.

Competitors practice runs on Dec. 6 in preparation for the Snowboard Big Air World Cup at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. Photo by Greg Southam/Postmedia
  • Hannukah controversy: Mayor Jyoti Gondek of Calgary dropped out of a menorah lighting ceremony, arguing the ceremony was a pro-Israel event. Gondek said last-minute changes made the event political and betrays calls for interfaith unity. Responses to Gondek’s decision are polarizing.
  • Mayor fired: The Alberta government has fired Chestermere’s mayor, three councillors and three administrators. The firing comes after a months-long investigation found “irregular, improper and improvident” conduct that continued even after the province issued 12 binding directives for the city’s leadership. The remaining councillors say they’re ready to move forward with a forensic financial review.
  • Winter fire warnings: If you think winter has been unnaturally warm this year in Fort McMurray, firefighters in Airdrie battled a grassfire this week as flames triggered a neighbourhood evacuation.
  • Seeking help: Drought, shaky prices and unpredictable weather can take an emotional toll on farmers, but a University of Alberta study found Alberta farmers’ mental health is worse than the average Canadian farmer. More support is available today compared to five years ago, but the report notes more support is needed. Farmers also face stigma and a lack of time for getting help.
  • Morishita moves on: Former Alberta Party leader Barry Morishita has joined Alberta Counsel, a lobbying firm specializing in municipal consultation. Morishita, who is also the former mayor of Brooks, resigned as party leader last month. The Alberta Party has not had a legislative seat since 2019. Alberta Counsel was formed by Shayne Saskiw, a former Wildrose MLA from Lac La Biche.
  • Read up on the politics and culture of Alberta  with Postmedia’s subscriber-exclusive newsletter, What’s up with Alberta? Curated by the National Post’s Tyler Dawson every Tuesday and Thursday.

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