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    Company Towns

    By k.doran
    Jun 8, '07 4:43 PM EST

    A week in Fort Mac.
    An anthill of activity; the 1/2 tonne majority strains ill-equipped infrastructures and resides in $400K trailer homes. Syncrude excavates 250,000 barrels a day, while the rest of BIG Oil is racing to dig their feet in. Monstrous CAT's move around like the Big Loader Toy, hauling 80 tonnes of Muskeg to reveal 60 meters of Oilsand beneath; a reserve on par with Saudi Arabia. The city expects %500 growth in 20 years, with no where to grown, no roads to service growth and no infrastructure to sustain it. 'Shadow Populations' of Saskites, Chinese and Indians live in stacked pre-fab 'Camps' fortified with company trucks and pre-burned forests. Nouveau Riche Rednecks sink capital into Crotch Rockets, 4 Wheelers, '4-Bys' and the DC Shoe aesthetic.....all rapidly depreciating assets.imageimageimage PTI Group Work Camp image Reserve Housing image $400K Trailer + $40K Hummer imageimage 40' tall sulphur blocks image


    • ain't it a beautiful world we're makin'?

      Jun 8, 07 5:30 pm  · 
      Smokety Mc Smoke Smoke

      Fascinating, fascinating, fascinating. You should write an article about this.

      Jun 8, 07 9:38 pm  · 

      my cousin just bought one of those 400 k motor homes. he is a farmer really (farmer's can do ANYTHING), but the tar-sand work is too lucrative to ignore, so off he and his wife have gone...

      it is a very strange world we are creating...especially for canada. and especially for me cuz i used to drive through that part of the country quite a lot in my it is getting like texas c. early 1900's...and is of course pre-guaranteed to go the same more future ghost town in the making...

      sorta sad to see canada getting all fuked yup, but on other hand it will be nice to have money as a nation to pay for our healthcare and so on...

      you should have a look at estevan too, kelly, if you get a chance. super monster shovel there for strip mining along side of highway is a surreal site too....but there at least everyone lives in reglar suburban homes now (also with apple-pie american main street still working and slightly nice)...

      Jun 9, 07 1:11 am  · 

      check you inbox.

      Jun 9, 07 1:21 am  · 

      fascinating. I want to know more.

      Jun 9, 07 12:19 pm  · 

      I think it's a bit short-sighted to look at tax revenue from oil as a way to pay for national health care. For all the wealth oil is creating there is a big cost. In the short term inflation in Alberta is rampant. Real estate in Calgary is near the level of craziness that s. florida condos were a few years back. Additionally there is a educational cost on the youth on Alberta. If any 18yr/old can make $100k driving a truck in Ft. Mac there's little reason for higher education, and that's starting to show up. Finally, and most important, in the process of separating the tar sand they are using & polluting millions upon millions of gallons of fresh water, not to mention all the natural gas that's used up as well. In it's wake is a polluted tailings pond. Meanwhile, even at $1.20/liter (over $4 USD/gallon) most Canadians are no different than their neighbors to the south, driving massive SUV's with little concern for the real cost that goes into making the fuel to power it.

      Jun 11, 07 8:41 am  · 

      that's just wrong on so many levels. A 400k trailer? What's inside - gold plating?

      Jun 16, 07 7:35 pm  · 
      brian buchalski

      i really love some of these school blogs

      Jun 21, 07 5:43 pm  · 

      Having spent a yr in the Mac working for a contracting company --we were contracted out by KBR-Halliburton, who were contracted out by Syncrude-- i must say that these notions of Fort Mac, are wrong but also right.

      I agree with u on the points of pollution and inflation. Pollution? Theres no doubt about it, the areas surrounding Fort Mac look like the remnants of a tanker spill. The inflation is downright scary, ur paying New York prices for Edmonton homes. :|. U have restaurants like McDonalds closing the dining areas in the evenings due to labour shortages. The infrastructure is just not there to support this.

      I disagree with educational costs assumption. No, you wont be making $100k driving no truck up there...especially if you're 18. It's all union work, and in the union senority counts for something. However, with that being said, having worked with tradesppl day in and day out, i realized that it was an "old boys club". So if u knew someone who knew someone in a position of senority, and they needed someone, rather than give the job to some mendicant who pulled a ticket, they would give the job to u...and u would be compensated accordingly. THIS is how u make the big bucks. Make a reputation for urself, become good at ur craft, or know someone good at THEIR craft willing to vouche for u. BADABINGBADABOOM $$$$$$

      The difference between these folk and the regular tradesppl, is the fact that they get paid LOA (Living Out Allowance) on top of their regular salary. It's different for every company u work for, but i remember it was $3000 tax free on top of my salary. This more than anything attributes to the crazy stories u hear about ppl becoming filthy rich. Generally, most 18 yr olds dont fall into this category.

      Aug 17, 07 6:10 am  · 

      Another thing one must understand about the work up there is that everyone is working shift work. Either consisting of rotations of 11 & 3 (11 days straight work, 3 days off) or 10 & 4 (10 days work, 4 off). Compounded by the fact that ur working 10hr days, theres A LOT of overtime to be made.

      So, to say that this is such a great life is an overstatement. Yes, ur making money, but look at what ur sacrificing. U have to leave for work at 7 cuz it takes an hr to get out to site. Work 10 hrs, and spend an hr returning home from site, all the while praying that there r'nt any idiots driving recklessly causing accidents on the single laned highway that takes u from site back to Fort Mac. God forbid, theres an accident and the drive home might actually take 2-3hrs instead of the 1. Its cynical, but this is what everyones thinking about...NOT if anyone actually got hurt in the accident. This is not life to me. I can't play intramural soccer! I can't take a girl on a date! I can't take an early evening art class! I don't have a proper social life!!! Everyone chooses their own path in life, but this northern boom has had minimal, if any affect at all on educational costs.

      Yes the $$$ will lure some youths of Alberta away, but these were the ones that were never interested in post secondary education anyways. There r a TON of bright incoming students to the Universities here that WANT an education. In fact, the admissions requirements for all faculties of the University of Alberta r the highest they've ever been. So many kids wanna get into much more competition to get in.

      Just my two cents!

      Aug 17, 07 6:11 am  · 

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