What’s next for Fort McMurray and its oilsands: a long and costly rebuild

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The fire forced the evacuation of 94,000 people, shut down half the region’s oil production, and destroyed 2,400 homes and businesses.

CALGARY — The first Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo council meeting since the fire that incinerated parts of its primary centre, Fort McMurray, and Canada’s oilsands was as emotional as you might expect: some councillors hugged each other, others teared up while describing the devastation they left behind, and some got frustrated with their inability to kick-start the rebuilding effort.

That the meeting was held in Edmonton only emphasized the fears and impatience of its displaced residents. “Don’t let the fire win,” said councillor Tyran Ault, urging the rest of council to keep the fun in the northern oil centre by maintaining funding for programs such as the Canada Day parade and leisure centre services so residents would have incentives to return.

Twelve days after the fire forced the evacuation of 94,000 people, shut down half the region’s oil production and destroyed 2,400 homes and businesses, Fort McMurray remains under a state of emergency while services such as water and power are restored.

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