Delegates to the North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA) meeting in Dawson Creek this week will not be touring Alberta's oilsands after all—news that will come as no surprise to anyone following the news out of Fort McMurray over the past 24 hours.
Wildfires forced the evacuation of the entire city affecting roughly 80,000 people. Some who were forced out of their homes are now, in some cases, taking up temporary residence in the very work camps that delegates of the NCLGA conference were set to tour on May 7.
The tour, organized through the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), would have taken local government officials and delegates to the conference on a flight from Dawson Creek to Suncor and ConocoPhillips facilities about an hour and a half north of Fort McMurray.
Some evacuees who were heading south to Edmonton on Highway 63 late on May 3 were turned around when the highway closed. Some ended up at these two oilsands sites, CAPP spokesperson Chelsie Klassen told the Dawson Creek Mirror.
"Operators in the area are evacuating their non-essential staff to make room for community members that need it the most," she said. "Some facilities are being shut-in and some of them are being limited in production so (they) can make room for people to have a safe place to stay."
Companies have flown all non-essential staff at the camps home to Calgary and Edmonton to make room for evacuees, she added.
Klassen said it's possible that an oilsands tour leaving from Dawson Creek could be rescheduled at a later date.