Why I came to Fort McMurray? It’s pretty simple… opportunity. I got tired of what I was doing in Ontario and felt that I had gone as far as I could in my career. I was itching to do something new, something I could get excited about, something to reset my career.
I had consistently heard praises about Fort McMurray from my father-in-law and it sounded like the change that I may be looking for. So in 2008, I finally bit the bullet and took a position with Northern Lights Health Centre as a security supervisor for the hospital here in Fort McMurray.
At first, I didn’t know if I was ready for what I signed up for! Downtown Fort McMurray use to be “just crazy” on Friday and Saturday nights. There was a place called “The Oil Can on Franklin Ave” that was the hot spot for action. Specifically, after every UFC fight that was broadcast, there was always someone coming into the hospital because they were “Bottled” or “beaten up”!
About a week into my first shift I remember calling my wife and saying “What did we do”!
At that time, the infrastructure on the highway was non-existent, so if you were coming from either Timberlea or Thickwood, you had to be on either one of those hills by 6:00 am. or you’d be stuck in traffic. Traffic didn’t flow nearly well as it does now, there was always tons of people on the roads and the traffic was absolutely ridiculous! Back then I use to smoke; I could smoke three and a half cigarettes before I got home, that's how I use to gauge how long I sat in traffic!
But now I feel like it was “destiny” that we moved here and that we were meant to be McMurrian’s, everything in our lives has just blossomed since living here.
I believe in this city and our leadership, they’re proactive and responding to the demands of the populist because of how it was in the past. I think they’re on the right track, their trajectory is heading towards something really good. Especially now that the leaders are talking about a waterfront development! Their emphasis is now on families; family settings and things for families to do and less and less on the transient population. We have a great community that's engaged and we have leadership that's even more engaged than previous leadership and I think good things are to come in the future.
As McMurrian’s, we need to show the uniqueness of Fort McMurray, it's a diverse place and we have many different cultures that help this city prosper and grow.
I would like to see a greater emphasis on keeping everything local and supporting the local businesses. I don’t know what’s down the road or around the corner for me, but I can confidently say that going back to Ontario hasn’t entered my mind! Fort McMurray is where I want to be, this is where I want to stay, my daughter was born here and this is now home to me.