|Fort Mac, as the town is lovingly referred to by many residents,
is a town in the northeastern section of the province of Alberta. It is
located within the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Actually, Fort
McMurray is technically a hamlet, and is no longer a city in the true sense
of the word since it is no longer incorporated. It does have the distinction
of being the largest metropolitan area within Alberta that is not incorporated.
Almost 65,000 people live here.
Fort McMurray is on the plains of Alberta, and is a bit of a drive to
get to any of the major cities of the province. Edmonton is about 4-5
hours drive. Not to worry though, since Fort McMurray is a large "town"
and has most of the amenities and services that you would find in a larger
Growth in Fort McMurray is impressive. Since 1999, the town has had a
growth rate of over 8 1/2 percent, and within about 5 or 6 years, estimates
are that the town population will be 6 figures. That is an amazing growth
curve. The population of the "city" is very diverse. Families
and workers are drawn here from all points in Canada and the world.
So what brings people here? In short, Oil is the driving force. There
has been a recent Oil boom in Canada, especially in the prairie areas
and provinces. This accounts for the influx of new residents to Fort McMurray.
Fort Mac is located quite close to the Athabasca Oil Sands, which is where
a good portion of North America's crude oil comes from. Syncrude and Suncor
Energy are two of the big mining and oil companies in the area. Fort Mac
also relies on tourism and forestry.
Since Fort McMurray is on such a growth (boomtown) cycle, you can imagine
what this has done to home prices and rental rates. Fort McMurray has
some of the highest home prices in Alberta, and rental and vacancy rates
are less than desirable.
There are several schools in Fort McMurray ranging from Public Primary,
Elementary and Secondary schools, to private charter schools, to Keyano
College which is a publicly funded college and vocational school.
In the northwest part of town there is a residential loop made up of
Thickwood Blvd and Confederation way. If you cross the river and head
to the southeast, using Sakitawaw Trail, you'll enter the more "downtown"
and commercial areas of Fort Mac. Franklin Ave and Hospital St. make up
two of the main roads in town. Sakitawaw Trail turns into Hwy 63 and heads
through the southern part of town where there are several other neighbourhoods.
Airport Road (hwy 69) intersects with 63 and heads to the East where you'll
end up at the Fort McMurray Regional Airport.