Despite the ongoing recession, Fort McMurray remains the economic engine of the country. The ability of the community’s flourishing economy to attract workers from all over Canada, especially Newfoundland, has earned it the tongue-in-cheek tag of Newfoundland’s third largest city. According to the 2008 census, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, in whose jurisdiction Fort McMurray falls, is home to over 100,000 residents, the vast majority of whom are connected, in some way or other, to the mining industry.
A thriving mining boomtown creates both opportunities and challenges for a CIM branch. The Fort McMurray Branch enjoys significant corporate support for its technical presentation series and social events. We are very grateful to the operating companies and suppliers who line up to sponsor events and donate prizes and supplies. On the other hand, our prosperous economy necessitates long work hours for our significant membership base. This means that it is a challenge for many of our members to find the time to attend CIM events.
The Fort McMurray Branch aims to host approximately six technical talks each year, drawing on local experts, suppliers and the CIM Distinguished Lecturers to bring timely and meaningful topics to our membership. For just $5, members can enjoy an enlightening technical talk and network over a pizza and drink reception.
We also host two very popular social events each year. The Curling Funspiel is held at the end of January and sees 32 rinks participate in a fun-filled day of round-robin curling and socializing. Equally popular is the annual golf tournament held at the end of June. With a few extra holes worked into the game, 42 teams participate in this event, working their way around a course sprinkled with sponsored holes, aiming to take home fantastic prizes. Both events, organized by long-time branch executive members, have become fixtures on the local CIM calendar.
A great mining centre like Fort McMurray is fortunate to have numerous CIM societies active in the region. For several years now, the annual conference for the Alberta, Nunavut and Northwest Territories region of the Canadian Mineral Processors Society has been held here. The day-long event features presentations by regional operating companies and suppliers, with participants flying in for the meeting from all parts of the territory. This year, the event will be held on October 29.
The Coal and Oil Sands Society has always drawn a lot of attention from local members who flock to its annual conferences and meetings held in the southern parts of the province. With the recent split in the society that was brought about by a 2008 CIM Council motion, the new Oil Sands Society has begun to take form with John Rhind at the helm.
The Fort McMurray Branch has been successful for the past three decades because of the dedication of a core group of volunteers. We are very proud of our member Ken Chekerda who won the Coal Award at the CIM Conference and Exhibition this year. The award recognized Chekerda’s unfailing support of CIM at the branch, society and national levels over the past 30 years. As longstanding executives like him prepare for impending retirement, a “changing of the guard” is taking place within our branch executive.