Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Soaring Steel and Soaring Hearts

Yesterday I saw the first glimmerings of two new developments in Fort McMurray. Both involve buildings, and both will change this community. One is huge and shiny and grand, while the other will be a bit smaller but no less huge in terms of impact and heart. One is a new complex to be built downtown, while the other is an emergency shelter to replace the often overcrowded Unity House.

I am excited to see both these developments, but for very different reasons. This one:

Golden Buffalo Development

is quite likely one of the first huge new private projects we will see in the downtown core. The entire concept behind redevelopment of our downtown was to spur projects like this, and to attract investors who see this community as a good place to invest their money. These projects, couple with the catalyst projects from the RMWB, have the potential to not only reinvigorate but transform our urban centre, taking it from a rather dowdy state (and let's be brutally honest, the word "dowdy" is me being very kind to the current architecture downtown) and into the future. Contrary to what your mother said, looks DO matter, especially when it comes to having the kinds of services and amenities that go along with those good looks, and so our downtown will be well served by buildings that have both looks (architecturally speaking) and personality (services, opportunities, and amenities).

Now, the other development is no less important, and in some ways perhaps far more so. Unity House and what they do is close to my heart because it was home to some young women and their mom that I know, a family unit who needed them desperately at one point to escape a life that had become unbearable. They were fortunate, because Unity House on occasion has to turn away those in need as they are at capacity, (putting them up instead in other shelters or even hotels, which often presents challenges for these family units in terms of accessing the help and support they need). I was delighted to hear that the Family Crisis Society will break ground this year on a new facility that will help them to address these capacity issues and enable them to help more families in crisis, just as their name says. Through their Stop the Hurting, Start the Healing campaign they are raising funds to ensure that they have the operational capacity to meet not only the needs of today but those of tomorrow, as the need for their services will surely grow just as this community does.

So, two shiny new developments. One is a soaring complex full of glass and steel, stretching high into the sky and changing our skyline forever. One is a smaller building, full instead I hope of soaring hearts as those who enter it find a place where they can  stop the hurting, and start their healing. Both will bring with them tremendous change for our community and those who live, work and play here. And I could not be more happy to welcome them both, because they are both so very, very needed in this place we call home.

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