Quarterly News - March 2021

Welcome to the fifth issue of our Quarterly News.

We are continuing to showcase Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo, build regional content, and collaborate with stakeholders to enhance our region.

Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo; we want to hear from you!

Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo is a place of strong community spirit and we want to activate our pride of place!

Starting early April, we will be continuing our hyper local campaign with a focus on encouraging the community to get even more involved. We can’t wait to give away cool new Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo merchandise through contests and create more ways for you to share what makes this place home for you.


Growing the Online Community Toolkit -

The online community toolkit continues to grow with input from our community partners. Since launch we have added video call backgrounds, virtual postcards and PowerPoint slides with more tools being added soon. The toolkit remains focused on providing every person and business with the tools to market the region themselves and will continue to be developed over time.

Local employers and Human Resource (HR) professionals can register for Place Brand Talent Attraction Workshops through the toolkit. These workshops provide marketing tools and information to help attract talent and labour to our region.

image of the FMWB place brand on a computer monitor

Elevating the north!

In partnership with Travel Alberta we have just completed breathtaking photography and video of our incredible region in the winter. With a focus on outdoor adventure, we showcased multiple tourism partners and activities like snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, dogsledding, ice-fishing, traplines, black powder shooting and of course the Northern Lights.

A big thanks to our tourism partners and stakeholders at Arts Council Wood Buffalo, Beyond Adventures, Camp Yogi Society, Fort McMurray Hotel Group, Keyano College, Mush McMurray, Pioneer Rentals, Ptarmigan Ski Club, Rough Rider International, SnoDrifters, The Banquet, Vista Ridge and more.

We can’t wait to showcase, share and see the incredible winter photos and footage of our region in our marketing, in Travel Alberta’s national and international campaigns and by our local operators themselves!

person soaring through the air on a snowmobile

You don’t need to be a tech guru to be a part of this community.

Startup YMM - Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo’s small business incubator- is proud to have a growing community of more than 160 virtual members. Their online programming and events supports local entrepreneurs and inventors at every stage.

Upcoming events:

A four-part virtual speaker series, designed to inspire local businesses and community leaders, is closing with Johnny ‘Cupcakes’ Earle on Monday, April 12, 2021. Make sure to secure your ticket. Registration is free!


A place to learn, tinker, and create.

Startup YMM, in collaboration with local volunteers, is building our region’s first technology makerspace. A makerspace is a community-operated workspace for people with common interests, such as machining, computing science, and digital and electronic art, to meet, experiment and collaborate.

Are you willing to volunteer your time and expertise to build an innovation community? Do you have experience with makerspaces? We want to hear from you!

Contact Us

Regional Labour Study Employer Survey

A sincere thank-you to all the employers who participated in this important survey.

Our next steps include stakeholder discussion groups and key person interviews that will utilize the labour market themes identified in the employer survey results.

All of this information will inform a report that will provide a five-year forecast of labour market needs - highlighting future training requirements, hiring demands and attraction and retention practices. The report will be available to the public this summer.

If you are an employer interested in the discussion groups, please reach out to us.


Business Gap Analysis

We are currently leading a project to identify what business opportunities exist in our region. The Business Gap Analysis will identify the types of businesses and amenities missing in our community.

This analysis will highlight investment opportunities and inform a targeted attraction strategy. The Business Gap Analysis will include inputs from all business sectors and the general public. We anticipate engagements to begin this summer and want to hear from you.

If you have questions about this project or are interested in learning more about it, please let us know!

We look forward to sharing our 2020 successes and forward vision at our Annual General Meeting on June 9th, 2021.


Kevin Weidlich, CEO Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development & Tourism LinkedIn

Impacts on our region

Due to rising cases, the decision was made to delay moving forward with Step 3 of Alberta’s re-opening plan. It remains critical that we work together and stop the spread of COVID-19. Global oil demand is forecasted to recover around 60% of the volume lost to the pandemic in 2020 and oil prices continue to stabilize at ~48USD. The following captures our status as we continue Stage 2 of Alberta’s relaunch plan.


Source: as of March 29, 2021


OIL PRICES: Western Canadian Select Crude

Source: as of March 29, 2021



Brought to you in partnership with the Oil Sands Community Alliance (OSCA)

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) is forecasting an eight percent increase in oil sands spending for 2021. The slight increase in this year’s forecast represents a stabilizing of industry investment and the beginning of a long road to economic recovery for industry and the region.

Quick fact: Capital investment in the oil sands is forecast at $7.3 billion in 2021, up from an estimated $6.7 billion total in 2020 (Source: CAPP 2021).

As we embark on the long-term road to recovery, it is important to remember that Canada and this region will be competing for investment with every other jurisdiction in the world as well as other forms of energy. Being competitive is especially critical in a post-pandemic world.

As we turn our attention to near-term outlooks and regional strategic plans, it is key to understand that the oil sands industry is focused on optimization, maintenance and continued improvements to competitiveness, which requires creative thinking and innovation. In an increasingly competitive and volatile marketplace, business as usual will not suffice.

Did you know: In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, oil sands companies postponed scheduled turnarounds to minimize activity on their work sites. With the availability of rapid testing, and the provincial vaccine roll out, these events are being re-assessed and re-scheduled.

A turnaround is a scheduled, or unscheduled, shutdown of oil sands processing units, non-production assets, equipment, wells, pipelines or plants needed to maintain, repair, or implement facility modifications. Turnarounds typically occur in the spring/fall to take advantage of warmer weather and limit interference with the in-situ drilling season. As a result, while the workforce for turnaround maintenance required on site is large, it is only required for a relatively short period of time. The duration of a turnaround can vary – several days for a minor annual turnaround to several weeks for a major turnaround occurring only every few years.

Oil machinery in the winter at dusk