Growth Narratives and Governance Dependencies in Resource Towns Fort McMurray as Case Study

  • Author / Creator
    Bafgeesh, Ahmed
  • Oil sand development is the main economic engine in Alberta’s Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB). Large-scale boosterism and investments in oil sand projects have mainly driven the Municipality’s rapid growth during the path dependency of the last few decades. The rapid growth and increase in population, income, wealth and economic activity in the place cause a different scenario for societies and pressure on municipal services (Keough, 2015).
    The dependency on a single resource and rapid development has led to cycles of ups and downs in income, workforce, and population in many places, particularly in the Canadian West (Van Assche et al., 2017). Therefore, the Municipality has faced several unique challenges, with the boom and bust in the oil industry and some difficulties of the natural disasters. The relationship between the province, the oil industry, and the local governments (first of Fort McMurray, then of the RMWB) is complex, with an initial alignment of the growth of a complete city housing a workforce for the oil sands, to a divergence with the province informally supporting the growth of work camps while appearing to restrict the growth of the Municipality.

    In this thesis, I begin by reviewing processes in resource boomtowns, then briefly outline the history of Fort McMurray as a case study with the different scenarios of boom and bust in the area and explain how growth mentality and boosterism have shaped and driven the planning in the area with the evolution of the status in Fort McMurray since it became a New Town in 1964 focusing on the formal institutions in the local level. I then find the interdependency between the provincial government, oil companies and the Municipality, analyzing the dependencies in the governance of Fort McMurray with an understanding of the continuity and change in the evolution and ability of single-resource communities.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2023
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.