Weekly update: Suncor's in the hot seat and the RMWB needs cool names

The news and events of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo

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Good morning, Fort McMurray!

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The RMWB is asking people to name two graders, two front-end loaders and two snowplows ahead of the winter. People can vote for names after submissions are vetted based on creativity, humour and local relevance.

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When it comes to picking some great names, let’s follow Arnold Schwarzenegger’s advice and “kick some ice.” You can submit up to three names here. Fort McMurray Today formally submits Fast and Flurrious: Thickwood Drift, Shiver me Timberlea, and Snye me a River.

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  • igNIGHT 2023: Explore igNIGHT, a free family-friendly public art exhibition at Kiyām Community Park. Enjoy captivating artwork by local and national artists, live performances, food and even a mini trainride. Runs nightly until Oct. 22 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Information is online.
  • Fort McMurray Oil Barons: Home games against Calgary Canucks at Centerfire Place on Oct. 20 and 21. All games start at 7:30 p.m. Season schedule is online.
  • An Evening with Jillian Harris: Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at MacDonald Island Park, doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets online.
  • Celebration of Life for Ches Dicks: The Fort McMurray Oil Barons is hosting a Celebration of Life for Ches Dicks, the man who brought Oil Barons hockey to Fort McMurray. All hockey fans are encouraged to attend on Oct. 21 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the multipurpose room at Centerfire Place.
  • YMM Pumpkins & Planes Family Fun Event: Fort McMurray International Airport on Oct. 21 at noon. Tickets online.
  • Buffys 2023: Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards: Fort McMurray’s premier arts event is back! This year’s theme is Midnight at the Moulin Rouge. Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts. Tickets online.
  • Join a RMWB committee: The RMWB has 65 spots on 15 municipal boards and committees. Apply by Oct. 23. Information online.
  • Trivia and Bingo: Old School Rock Music Bingo at Canadian Brewhouse on Oct. 25. Halloween Horror Trivia on Oct. 26 at Brewskis Pub. Both events at 7 p.m.
  • World Tour Paddling Film Festival: Check out Fort McMurray’s newest craft brewery and enjoy films from the Paddling Film Festival. Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Drum Brewing in the Morrison Centre.
  • Momentum 2023: Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development and Tourism hosts its annual conference on Oct. 26 at Shell Place. Keynote speaker Kendall Dilling, president of Pathways Alliance, and other provincial and local leaders will talk about innovation locally and in Alberta. Tickets are online.
  • Turn traffic boxes into art: Artists are paid $700 if their work is picked. RMWB accepting proposals until Oct. 27.
  • “Raining on Dreams” exhibition: Raining on Dreams, an exhibition featuring original art work by local resident Lasha Barbosa. Lasha has overcome extraordinary challenges to forge a unique creative path. Her journey encompasses a triumphant battle against brain tumors, chronic pain, and mental health hurdles. Runs until Oct. 27 at the Kirschner Family Community Art Gallery.
  • Council’s Excellence Award: Nominations for outstanding citizens are open until Oct. 30.
  • Feedback on recycling and garbage services: The RMWB wants feedback for their Solid Waste Management Plan. Complete the survey by Oct. 31 for a chance to win prizes. Information and the survey is online.
  • Brett Kissel headlines Keyano Gala: Keyano’s annual fundraising gala is Nov. 4. Alberta country music star Brett Kissel is headlining an event inspired by Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry. Funds from the black-tie affair go towards Keyano programs including academics, sports, theatre, trade programs and capital projects. Tickets online.

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CEO and president of Suncor Energy was photographed at the Suncor office building in downtown Calgary on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Suncor CEO defends climate commitments on hot seat in Ottawa

Suncor’s new CEO and president was grilled by the House natural resources committee on Monday after comments he made to investors about focusing company operations towards oil production.

Shortly after taking over the company in April, Rich Kruger said the company has “a bit of a disproportionate emphasis on the longer-term energy transition” and “we win by creating value through our large integrated asset base underpinned by oilsands.”

Suncor has also been cutting jobs and will have eliminated 1,500 jobs by the end of the year.

Kruger, a former CEO of Imperial Oil and previously an executive with Exxon Mobil, pointed out that Suncor spent $540 million last year on its decarbonization initiatives. Suncor is also part of a group of six oilsands producers working together to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

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NDP and Liberal MPs hammered Kruger’s comments and his record. Conservative MPs threw a few jabs at the Liberals after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled parts of the Impact Assessment Act are unconstitutional.

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Chief Vern Janvier of the Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation speaks at a press conference in Fort McMurray on Sept. 7, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

Jury trial scheduled for chief accused of sexual assault

Chief Vern Janvier of the Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges. A jury trial is scheduled for Sept. 16 to 20, 2024 at the Fort McMurray Court of King’s Bench.

Wood Buffalo RCMP began investigating Janvier in February 2022 after receiving a complaint about alleged sexual assaults. Police arrested and charged Janvier in June 2022.

Janvier is accused of committing a sexual assault between Jan. 1, 2004 and Dec. 31, 2008. He is accused of a second alleged sexual assault between Jan. 1 2020 and Dec. 31, 2021. He is also accused of threatening to harm a woman and her family “with intent to obtain her refusal to report sexual assault.”

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Janvier has been charged with two counts each of sexual assault and breach of trust, and one count of extortion without a firearm. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Protesters supporting Palestine rally on Franklin Avenue in downtown Fort McMurray on October 10, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

RCMP says Fort McMurray demonstrations have been peaceful

Wood Buffalo RCMP says demonstrations in Fort McMurray regarding the Israel-Gaza War have been peaceful and anticipates future protests will continue to have no incidents.

However, officers have increased patrols around Fort McMurray’s mosques and demonstrations to ensure the safety of everyone.

RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Sabrina Clayton said police have not received any complaints about hate crimes or fights at any demonstrations since the war began on Oct. 7.

Other cities have seen—on both sides—protesters harassed, rallies turn violent, and religious institutions threatened or vandalized.

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She also said senior officers with Wood Buffalo RCMP have been meeting with multicultural and Muslim organizations to ensure the safety of their members.

Mayor Sandy Bowman said in a statement he understands the war impacts people in the community, and urged people to remain peaceful as the war continues.

Firefighters with the Fort McMurray Fire Department conduct a controlled burn near Highway 63 on April 27, 2023. The controlled burns are part of the RMWB’s FireSmart program, which is designed to fight and prevent fires and wildfires in the region. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

Controlled burns in Fort McMurray delayed until 2024 wildfire season

A controlled burn in the areas of Morgan Heights and Harp Heights in Timberlea has been cancelled after firefighters were scheduled to start them on Thursday. This area will be included in next spring’s controlled burn program.

This year’s burn program was paused in May when dry, hot and windy conditions caused a province-wide fire ban. October has been warmer than usual, so trained teams hoped to finish the burns this week. Wet weather in recent days has made this impossible.

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Controlled burns create firebreaks limiting the spread of wildfires. They also promote biodiversity in the boreal forest. Turning dying plant life or invasive species into ash allows newer plants to grow.

Since January, there have been 60 wildfires in the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo area. Alberta Wildfire says more than 3,643 square kilometres have been burned. More than 2,360 square kilometres of that land was around Fort Chipewyan and Fort Smith.

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Cocaine and cash seized by the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) in Fort McMurray on Oct. 4, 2023. Image supplied by ALERT

Police seize roughly $22,435 in cocaine, cash; Fort McMurray man arrested

A Fort McMurray man has been charged with drug trafficking following an investigation that began in the summer.

The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) says the man was arrested Oct. 4 at a Timberlea apartment following a search warrant.

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During their search, officers found 112 grams of cocaine and $11,235 in cash. Staff Sgt. Mark Wait of ALERT Fort McMurray believes the total value of the seizure is roughly $22,435.

Justin Claeys, 27, of Fort McMurray has been charged with trafficking charges and has been released from police custody. He is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 28.

Winnipeg tattoo artist Fernando Rodriguez creates his art on a client at the Calgary Tattoo and Arts Festival at the BMO Centre on Sunday, October 15, 2023. Gavin Young/Postmedia
  • ‘Massive win’: The Supreme Court of Canada ruled federal legislation on the environmental effects of major developments is unconstitutional. The court ruled the law as written regulates provincial affairs. Premiers Danielle Smith, Doug Ford and Scott Moe celebrated the ruling as a victory for provinces.
  • Celebratory hunt: A deal with Parks Canada has allowed two First Nations to hunt six deer, four elk and two sheep from a closed area in Jasper National Park. The food will go towards a community feast celebrating an agreement for greater Indigenous input in park operations.
  • Pension fight: The Alberta government’s panel on whether Alberta should quit the Canada Pension Plan has heard plenty of arguments in support and opposition, but the main theme is a demand for more details. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the CPP Investment Board argue the idea is reckless. The Alberta Federation of Labour says opposition to needs to come from Alberta and not Ottawa, and is organizing its own opposition campaign. Premier Danielle Smith says Alberta won’t quit CPP without a vote.
  • Centre stage: A group of Albertans have formed the Albertans Against Extremism Party. Leaders say the party is a moderate home for right-leaning Albertans. The party is the latest to try carving a centrist option for Albertans. Other centrist parties, like the Alberta Party and Alberta Liberals, have failed to make a dent in recent elections and have disappeared in many ridings.
  • Hinman calls it a day: Paul Hinman, who has spent decades in Alberta’s conservative political scene, retired last month. Hinman was last leader of the Wildrose Loyalty Coalition, which he formed after he was ousted as leader of the separatist Wildrose Indepence Party. He also led the former Wildrose Party before Danielle Smith. Hinman finished third in last year’s Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche byelection.
  • 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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