Service delivery in the Athabasca oil sands region since 1961

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  • Development of the Athabasca Oil Sands deposits between 1961 and the present has led to rapid changes in the region's demographic and economic structure, in types of employment available, in the composition of labour force, distribution of income per capita, and in the demand for housing and for various amenities and services needed by the in-coming population. The most rapid population growth has occurred in Fort McMurray which, from a small northern community of 1200 people in 1961, has blossomed by 1978 into an urban centre of 25 000 inhabitants. The two most substantial population growth periods have coincided first, with the construction of the Suncor Inc. (formerly Great Canadian Oil Sands) plant (1964 to 1968); and second, with the construction of the Syncrude Canada ltd. project (1973 to 1978) . The population growth has necessitated the institution and continuous expansion of a service delivery system, including urban infrastructure and social services. Although the level of services and facilities which Fort McMurray provided to its residents has been in most instances satisfactory and has continued to improve, some service delivery problems did occur. These involved the timing of the delivery of services in relation to different periods of growth induced by the construction and the operation of the oil sands plants.

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