Oilsands hub Fort McMurray bursting at seams

When Melissa Blake was elected to council in Wood Buffalo in 1998 for the first of two terms, oil was selling for $10 a barrel.

“Our annual budget was $45 million,” Blake says.

“We had to trim $1 million out of it.”

These are headier days for the regional municipality that sprawls from north-central Alberta to the borders of Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.

Fuelled by the rapid development of the oilsands, Wood Buffalo is the second-fastest-growing urban area in Canada, behind Okotoks, and has just passed its first $1-billion budget.

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