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

Saturday, April 5, 2014


There is a song that runs through my head a great deal recently. I have always been a fan of David Bowie, and thought him quite a brilliant lyricist and vocalist. And the Bowie song running through my thoughts at every turn in this community? This one:

Changes. This is what Fort McMurray is going through right now, changes large and small that will impact us in ways we cannot quite imagine yet.

Today I went and wandered around the new Shoppers Drug Mart in Stonecreek. Perhaps it shouldn't be a big deal, the opening of a new drugstore, but it is when it is in a neighbourhood that desperately needs these retail options, and when it is surrounded by a large complex that will be filled with stores and services. It seems such a small thing and yet it is a harbinger of things to come.

The recent chatter about a big box centre, the ongoing development of the City Centre, including the return of the Urban Market this summer, the rapid pace of development at Shell Place, the new  Tim Horton's in Eagle Ridge, all the news stores and services and opportunities and...well, a lot of changes.

I reconnected with someone recently that I have not spoken to since I was 19 years old and living in Saskatoon. During our discussion it turned out he had grown up in Fort McMurray, something I had not known (or at 19 had not really cared about) and when he learned I live here now said it must be "crazy up there" - and I didn't actually know what to say, because we are still in the middle of incredible growth in population. Our demographic becomes more diverse every day as new immigrants to our country choose to come to Fort McMurray to start their life in Canada. We see more babies born, more families arrive, more houses being built, more roads being finished, and more changes than I have ever seen before in a community.

I wonder at times if this is how the people felt during the Gold Rush, as change occurred at such a rapid pace they couldn't keep up. I can no longer attend all the events to which I am invited, finding myself triple booked on some nights and facing difficult choices. There are new stores I have not yet explored, and new groups I know very little about. Three years ago, when I began this blog, I found it much easier to keep track of such things, but in the intervening time the pace of growth has quickened and I have been unable to keep up. The changes, it seem, just keep coming.

It is an exciting time to live here. It is a time of challenge, too, because these changes affect the fabric of our community, and it is up to us to both direct the changes and our response to them. We need to ensure that the changes don't become a freight train that drives us, and that we instead are the engineers who drive this particular train of development and change. We have a lot in our hands right now. We hold the present of this community, and the future, and the changes we are seeing now will determine what that future will be.

This is a time of ch-ch-changes - and how amazing it is to be a witness to it, as we see the future unfurling before us every single day.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad you picked David Bowie's Changes to go with this piece. I love him!
    Changes will occur that is a fact of life. But I love the way you capture beauty and positive changes. On a recent trip to McMurray, what I took notice of was the high traffic congestion. Crazy, busy, very much like Montreal, on a smaller scale, but still aggravating. And, the parking lot at the mall was equally frustrating, people were parking any which way, chaotic.
    Still, if you can get pass that you can find a real gem. As soon as I walked into Lifeforce Herbal Healing Centre most of the tension disappeared. The store is absolutely radiant and warm. The staff friendly and knowledgable. It is more than a store, the owner Kate, treated me like family. It was my first visit there although this store has been around for many years. Sometimes, it is nice to be reminded that even when things change, somethings, like great service remain the same. :)