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Fort McMurray: On the Street

posted by dru Geography: West Fort McMurray Topics: oil

June 12, 2007

Fort McMurray: On the Street


Top: patrons at the "Oil Can". Above: not under the same roof; a clandestine camper between a fence and a highway, and a syncrude-sponsored tent where hot tubs are sold

Today, we received our first real Fort McMurray experience: after two nights, the roommates of the one person we know in town decided that they didn't want us sleeping on their floor anymore. We now face what anyone coming to town or working a job that pays less than $100k/year faces: housing. It's not so bad, as we had planned to camp anyway, but even finding a spot to pitch a tent will be challenging.

A stop to a laundromat resulted in more of what is becoming a familiar conversation. "Money talks, money kills," a woman from New Brunswick told us. She's not a big fan of Fort Muck. She told us stories of stabbings, bouncers at the bar we visited last night (the "Oil Can") beating a guy to death, and a murder in the elevator of her apartment building. Everyone is always in a hurry here, she said, looking to get theirs. She says (and I haven't confirmed the figure, so I treat it as the impression of one three year resident rather than fact) that $7 million of drugs are sold in Fort Muck every week. She even told us the name of the main drug dealer, who she says the cops don't dare to go near (again, her impression).

We're now heading north, to try to get a look at the tar sands themselves and speak to some people who are on the negative end of the economic boom--though there is little evidence that it is bringing much happiness to those on the positive end, at least so far.

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