Northern Rockies Regional Municipality

Oil & Gas Conference to Address Fly-In Fly-Out Model

Beginning early in the morning, residents can hear the sound overhead of planes taking off and landing at the local airport, dropping off new workers to replace those heading home. Buses complete the journey delivering workers to industrial sites scattered throughout the region. The number of people working in or around the Northern Rockies can vary dramatically, simply depending on the day of the week, with the airport seeing sharp increases in activity due to scheduled and charter aircraft. Development of the vast Horn River kicked off in 2005 and to date the majority of the work force, services and supplies are provided on a fly in – fly out business model. All of the 3 major shale gas plays are situated with the boundary of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality.

The 2011 BC Oil & Gas Conference theme is “Communities Leading Change” and conference organizers agree that a discussion surrounding the Fly in Fly out business model is timely considering the current activity level.

The Fly‐in Fly‐out model, sometimes referred to as FIFO, can be explained simply as a circumstance where the employee is flown to the work site where they complete their shift (of days or weeks) and are then flown home. This type of model can have a negative impact on Regional Development as the number of workers continues to
grow, but who have no incentive to establish permanent residence, support local programs, support the tax base, etc.

In response , the NRRM is preparing a business case to focus BC jobs, for resident BC workers, for the benefit of BC communities and the Province of BC ‐ which could result in a totally new approach – diverting from the FIFO business model that has predominated major resource development for a number of decades. The Conference is addressing the FIFO model, past, present and future in a session titled, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles – Examining the Fly in Fly Out Model and the Community Impact”. Speakers include Greg Halseth, Professor, UNBC; Fort McMurray Mayor Melissa Blake, and Fort Nelson Mayor Bill Streeper. “In the Horn River Basin there will be three communities involved: Calgary, Victoria, and the Northern Rockies. Fort Nelson is working hard to position itself as the service centre for Shale Gas in Northeastern BC and that includes being a community where families would be proud to call home" says Mayor Bill Streeper.

Halseth is the Canada Research Chair in Rural and Small Town Studies and Director of UNBC's Community Development Institute. His research examines rural and small town community development and community strategies for coping with social and economic change, all with a focus upon Northern B.C.'s resource‐based towns.

Mayor Blake of Fort McMurray was elected Mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo again in 2010 after serving two terms as Mayor and two terms as Councillor. Being the top elected official for this vast oil rich municipality brings with it tremendous challenges, but Mayor Blake has proven to be a strong leader of change and progress throughout the region.

Mayor Streeper is no stranger to the oil and gas industry, having worked in and around the industry for the better part of his life. Streeper has served in public office in Fort Nelson since 2002 and is now serving as Mayor of B.C.'s first Regional Municipality.

This session is certain to provide insight into the challenges that communities face with increasing resource
development and will no doubt spark dialogue following the 2011 conference. For more information about the conference, please log onto www.northernrockies.ca or contact Judy Kucharuk, Conference Coordinator at (250) 784‐4237.

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