1. AN IN-TOWN WORK CAMP WILL LEAD TO MORE SOCIAL PROBLEMS ALONG FRANKLIN AVENUE
Wrong. I don't necessarily disagree with the fact that the drug and alcohol problems are on the rise, but its wholly unfair to place that blame squarely on those who live in camp.
Another important thing to consider is that, regardless of where their camp is located, if a group of guys working on the MacIsland expansion are thirsty after work, there's a good chance they're going to walk down to Franklin Avenue for a beer. Whether their camp is on the island or not, they're still only a 5 minute walk away at the end of the workday.
Either way, to paint people as social miscreants simply because they live in camp is unfair and prejudicial. A lot of these people who live in camp could well choose to make Fort McMurray home... although they might reconsider if we keep treating them like criminals.
2. THIS WILL MEAN THAT EVERY IN-TOWN PROJECT WILL HAVE ON-SITE WORK CAMPS.
If you actually bother to read the proposal, it is quite clear that this deals solely with MacDonald Island. That said, I don't entirely disagree with the statement.
I do, however, disagree with its use as an argument against the proposal.
There are two upcoming projects in particular which could quite easily see on-site project accomodation: the Water Treatment Plant expansion/upgrade, and Keyano College's Sport and Wellness Centre.
These projects are both very important to our community, and need to be completed as soon as possible. If that means an on-site camp for the people who are building these important assets, i'm all for it.
3. THERE ARE BETTER ALTERNATIVES AVAILABLE.
Forgive me, but that statement is utter garbage. I've heard the following 3 suggestions:
- Build a camp at the old AOSTRA site, 26 km north of town.
- Buy the Nomad Inn and turn it into rentable apartments for workers.
- Buy some of the 385 homes on the market and create long-term residents out of these construction workers.
Building a camp at the old AOSTRA site out in the middle of nowhere is a non-starter. From the money side, it will mean the added cost of bussing 250 people every day, as well as the cost of catering facilities (which already exist at Mac Island). Those 250 people on buses back and forth will only add to our already congested roads. And don't forget that it'll be hard enough to attract construction workers to work up here, even with camp available... now imagine what a prospective worker will tell you when you inform him/her that they'll also have to spend an extra hour on the bus each day because some community members would prefer to treat them like lepers and have them live in the middle of the bush.
Buying the Nomad Inn is equally ridiculous. Sure, it solves the problem of the "eyesore" of ATCO trailers, but it still puts these supposed deviants right in the downtown core. More importantly, i'm not sure how someone can justify taking hotel rooms off the market when its already near-impossible to get a room here during the week.
The idea of buying available houses, though, really does take the cake. What kind of construction company would budget buying a sufficient number of condos and houses (at $300k-$500k a piece) to house a temporary workforce. The key word is temporary. People who work in construction move from job to job and site to site, its the nature of the business. It was also suggested that the same people working on Mac Island could end up working on the Water Treatment Plant and the Sport and Wellness Centre. Ignore the fact that these projects will not all be identical and will require different numbers of different types of tradesmen... do people expect these projects to be built consecutively? If so, which project gets put on the backburner for the next 4 years?
I look forward to tomorrow night's Council Meeting. I suspect the extreme rhetoric coming from some less-than-visionary community members will be frustrating, but I remain confident that Council will look ahead to meet the needs of the next generation, rather than pacifying the leaders of the past.
Its funny, though, that in a city in the middle of the bush, people have such a hard time seeing the forest for the trees.