Around Town: Fort McMurray News (Week of July 20)

It’s time for another edition of our weekly column from the A-Team. Here is some important news for the week.

A new commercial development is in preparation for Stone Creek. From Mix News:

New Stone Creek Commercial Development In The Works

The new area would become home to new businesses, retail stores, offices, hotels, and more.

Division Manager Dan Soupal says, after years of work, it’s exciting to see the project get closer to fruition.

“It’s an evolving process but we’re very excited about this development, we’re eager to get going – we feel it’s a positive addition to the community and will create employment and economic opportunities.”

The next steps include designs and getting the proper permits in place. So far, they’ve already done a geotechnical investigation, a transportation impact assessment, preliminary site servicing investigations, and a conceptual site layout. Via

The development is expected to be finished in a few years, and following Eagle Ridge Commons, is set to enliven Timberlea and surrounding communities even further.

In other news, the Wood Buffalo Economic Development is providing additional help for small businesses, according to Melanie Walsh of My McMurray:

Wood Buffalo Economic Development providing help for small businesses

They have launched three new initiatives to help businesses flourish, the Keyano College voucher program, the business coaching program and the business resource centre.

Recipients can qualify for vouchers to be used towards non-credit or certificate courses at Keyano College, qualify for one-on-one coaching and advice from a professional Certified Management Consultant and get group programming through workshops and seminars. h/t

All recipients will have the freedom to choose from the three initiatives, which are funded by the Red Cross.

Lastly, the Calgary-based oil company Nexen was fined $750,000 this week for a 2015 pipeline spill near Fort McMurray:

Nexen fined $750,000 for 2015 pipeline spill

The pipeline responsible for the spill was associated with the company’s Long Lake oilsands facility, located about 45 km southeast of Fort McMurray, the release said. The spill released 5,000 cubic metres of bitumen emulsion over a 21,900-square-metre area.

The company’s statement said the leak began June 13. Although the spill was visible from satellite imagery by July 3, it wasn’t until July 15 that Nexen realized there was a problem when two employees spotted it while doing work in the area.

The double-walled pipeline — designed to carry raw bitumen from the ground to a processing plant — had been installed a year earlier. The pipeline, which used a relatively new technology, operated at 100 degrees Celsius in order for the thick bitumen to flow.

Nexen said the release went undetected because a computer failed to sound an alarm. read more at

The fine will be divided and directed to creative sentencing which will include a large amount for a new learning centre that focuses on limiting the effects of pipeline spills on wetlands, and for expanding on an environmental sciences degree program for indigenous youth.


That’s all for this weeks’ roundup. Check back on The A-Team blog for more news and updates on Fort McMurray.

Around Town: Fort McMurray News (Week of July 20) Read more on:


Should You Get a Home Appraisal Before Selling?

Is a Home Appraisal Worth It?

A home appraisal is sometimes done by sellers to get a good idea of the real value of their home before listing. The appraised value is often listed in the listing write-up! Despite its advantages however, not every home seller should undergo a home appraisal. Here are a few reasons why you wouldn’t need an appraisal:

Obviously, appraisals add to closing costs. A recent post from Home Guides explains:

Saving You Dollars

Waiving the need for an appraisal saves around $400 in appraisal fees, and you don’t have to worry about the bank pulling out of the deal if it turns out you have less equity than expected. Via

A home appraisal isn’t free, and between renovations, inspections, and other costs, it’s definitely an extra expense.

There’s no need to get a home appraisal if money is a dealbreaker

Next in our list is a major one: buyers don’t necessarily agree with appraisals. In today’s Fort McMurray housing market, buyers have a lot more influence than sellers:

Buyers don’t often agree with appraised value

There is very clear evidence in terms of the benefits of the inspection prior to listing, but the appraisal is a bit trickier. It is completely worthwhile in some cases, while in others it is, quite frankly, a hassle and waste of money.

Buyers don’t often agree with appraised value. Remember, the current market dictates what a home’s price and value in terms of sales. That doesn’t always match up to the appraised value in a down market. h/t

No matter how high an appraiser values your home, it may not be worth much to a buyer, especially in a balanced/buyer’s market. There are still different factors that could affect the market value of your house such as the location, condition, etc.

Following on, the real estate market is constantly changing. The fluidity may have an effect on your listing:


The actual data in an appraisal is taken from “recent” sales. So, if you purchase an appraisal today and your home doesn’t sell for a couple of months, there may be other sales that occur in the meantime that could effect the property’s value. Here’s an example . . .

You decide to sell your home and purchase an appraisal on March 1st. The appraiser uses sales data from the last few months and comes up with a home value of $300,000 for your property. 3 weeks after you’re appraisal was completed, a home sold that is similar to yours in square footage and amenities but it sold for $315,000.

While none of us have a crystal ball, we can only use the current data that’s available, so this scenario can be one negative to purchasing an appraisal before you list your home. read more at

After a bit of time in a volatile market, appraisals get outdated. This is why agents (including The A-Team’s specialist listing agents) tend to offer free Home Evaluations. We have access to recent sale data and we know how to use it. Our agents evaluate homes by Comparative Market Analysis all the time, and know how to do it well and communicate your home value to you effectively. That being said, with a very short list of home (for example, unique ones), we do sometimes recommend a professional appraiser (the value experts). If you are looking for expert assistance with marketing your home, from pricing to key release, we’re here to help! 🙂

The following post Should You Get a Home Appraisal Before Selling? is available on The A-Team YMM

MacDonald Island Park in Fort McMurray

Fort McMurray’s Entertainment Hub

Situated on the banks of the junction of the Clearwater River and Athabasca River is Canada’s largest community recreation, leisure, and social centre – MacDonald Island Park.

This year marks the Island’s 40th year anniversary of being Fort McMurray’s recreation hotspot.

According to the Regional Recreation Corporation of Wood Buffalo (RRC), MacDonald Island is rich in history dating back to 1872 when John James MacDonald arrived in Fort McMurray to work for Hudson’s Bay Company.

He was the first known settler during this time and set up “residence on ‘McMurray Island’, which was renamed MacDonald Island” after he allotted the land.

The MacDonald family remained on the Island through the 1880s to the 1910s, when only a few residents remained in the area after the fur trade declined. And in 1942, the last person to reside on the Island moved away.

In 1966, local athlete and resident Charles ‘Chuck’ Knight began campaigning for a year-round facility. The year following, a volunteer group completed construction for the Miskanaw Golf & Country Club. Knight became the driving force for the facility.

The MacDonald family remained on the Island through the 1880s to the 1910s, when only a few residents remained in the area after the fur trade decline and in 1942 the last person to reside on the Island moved away.

After Knight became Mayor of Fort McMurray in 1973, the council appointed a steering committee to oversee the construction of the MacDonald Island Recreation Complex.

It opened for its first time with a golf course, three baseball fields, a football and soccer field, four tennis courts, cross-country ski trails, a cricket pitch, archery and an indoor facility with ice rinks and a 12-sheet curling rink in 1978.

In 1993, the park was renamed the C.A. Knight Recreation Centre to honour Knight. He retired to British Columbia in 1989 and passed away at the age of 77 in 2011.

In 2015, Knight was inducted into the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame for his community efforts. An article in quoted his daughter Kim Holwell stating: “I’m so proud that his vision and legacy still positively influence the community and is being recognized.”

During 2006 and 2008, the Centre closed down for repairs and reopened in 2009 with two NHL-sized arenas, an eight-sheet curling rink, an indoor playground, two indoor field houses, an indoor running track, a fitness centre, squash and racquetball courts and meeting and banquet facilities, among other world-class amenities.

In 2011, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo hosted an official ribbon cutting ceremony and named the street leading into the Island, C.A. Knight Way and further honoured Knight with a memorial waterfall inside the lobby of the Suncor Community Leisure Centre. same year brought in the city’s largest concert when iconic rock band KISS came to Fort McMurray to perform. The attendance saw nearly 10,000 fans.

And in 2015, the Globe and Mail headlined “CFL comes to Fort McMurray’s field of dreams” when the Canadian Football League hosted the northernmost game with the Edmonton Eskimos and the Toronto Argonauts in MacDonald Island’s new $133-million Shell Place stadium.

Forty years later, the Island operates as a not-for-profit corporation and is home to the Suncor Community Leisure Centre, the Miskanaw Golf Club and Shell Place. A long list of successful events has and continue to take place since the completion of the recreation centre hub.

Today, residents are flocking to MacDonald Island for Fort McMurray’s new hometown summer music festival – Summer Sounds FM. It takes place from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. For tickets and to learn more, visit MacDonald Island Park’s website.

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Around Town: Fort McMurray News (Week of July 13)

It’s time for another edition of our weekly column from the A-Team. Here is some important news for this week.

Some positive housing market news came out this week. According to the Fort McMurray REALTORS®, there was a major spike of homes sold in the month of June:

Homes Sold See Major Spike in June

According to the Fort McMurray REALTORS® monthly report, 70 properties were bought – up from the 49 in May.

This is also up from the 48 sold in June 2017.

The Realtors note the 70 homes sold are the most in a single month since nearly 2015.

“The market seems optimist for those both selling and buying properties as recovery continues.” Via

This is the latest sign that a balanced market has taken hold on the region: buyers and sellers are on more of an equal platform than last year. However, we expect prices to continue decreasing.

In wildfire news, the Council will proceed with the firebreak safety project, according to Laura Beamish of Fort McMurray Today:

Council passes firebreaks, to talk property issues

The project will create a grass buffer of up to 30 metres between homes and trees. Beyond the 30 metres, trees will be planted.

The decision on proceeding with the project was deferred at a council meeting on June 12 after residents complained to council about a lack of consultation on firebreak boundaries.

In response, the municipality held a Here For You session for affected residents on June 21. The meeting saw 86 residents attend, while 15 written concerns were submitted to the municipality.

Erin O’Neill, operations manager for the Recovery Task Force, said concerns from residents were taken into consideration, including privacy issues for residents and finding solutions for the use of off-highway vehicles. h/t

Many residents agree with the decision, but issues with firebreak boundaries are proving to be a sticking point.


Lastly, the local unemployment rate has increased for the third straight month. From My McMurray:

Slight increase to unemployment rate

Statistics Canada is reporting that the number slightly rose from 6.4 per cent in May to 6.5 per cent in June.

Roughly, 400 jobs were lost in the Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake region throughout last month.

Provincially, the unemployment rate also increased from 6.2 to 6.5 per cent.

The national unemployment rate is 6.0 per cent. read more at

The decline In the Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake region reverses a series of consecutive month-over-month gains.

That’s all for this weeks’ roundup. Check back on The A-Team blog for more news and updates on Fort McMurray.

The article Around Town: Fort McMurray News (Week of July 13) Read more on:

Negotiation Tips When Home Buying

Every home buyer wants a comfortable advantage in the negotiation stage. While a buyer agent’s primary role is to help in these negotiations, it’s important for the buyer to be aware of common guidelines.

When it comes to negotiations in home buying, research is important. Looking past the surface may uncover some helpful info, such as the true length of time it’s been on the market:

It is vital to do some research

It is vital to do some research as to who the vendor is, and their reason for selling, as well as how long the property has actually been on the market. An agent may truthfully tell you that it has only been on the market for four months, but it could well have been on the market with another agent for ten months prior to that, and discreetly on the market/off market for six months prior to that. By understanding these factors, you can tailor your offer to maximise the chances of acquiring the property for the least amount of money. Via

Knowing information such as the reason for selling and how long the property has been on the market will give you an insight into the mind of the seller,

Next, base your offer on the home value and not on the list price. It’s unwise to use the list price as an actual indicator of value:

Base your offer on the home value, not the list price

The recent sales in the neighborhood give you and your agent ammunition and information. If a home is priced at or below market value, you’re unlikely to get it for less. If it is priced above market value and has been on the market for a while, a lower offer accompanied by a market analysis may get you the home. This is where a good agent can be invaluable. h/t

There are listings in the real estate market priced based on sellers’ expectations. If it’s overpriced, your agent will know and negotiate as such.

Negotiate to get the best price possible!

Lastly, is to avoid letting your emotions rule when negotiating. Emotions shouldn’t interfere with your decisions:

Don’t Let Emotions Rule

It’s true that often people buy emotionally; if you don’t love the house, most likely you shouldn’t buy it. But emotions need to be in check when you’re negotiating. Rational heads make the best decisions. We’ve seen people get emotionally worked up and lose sight of the end goal, while standing on principle over a small matter. read more at

No buyer wants to regret their decision. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence, and one that leaves buyers in a difficult situation.

Negotiation Tips When Home Buying is republished from The A-Team Blog

Fort McMurray International Airport: An Overview

The Wood Buffalo region is rich in aviation history.

The earlier days of Fort McMurray flight took place on the waterways, where float planes docked among steamboats. Today, the city offers the largest airport in northern Alberta with the Fort McMurray International Airport.

Clenell “Punch” Dickens historic’s mail run in a single Fokker monoplane, along the Mackenzie River in 1929, was the kickstart to planes dominating the local transportation service.

Gate 5 at YMM Airport Credit:

According to Fort McMurray Tourism, this was the beginning of aircraft transportation as it “marked the beginning of airmail service and further propelled the town into a dominant position as a gateway to the Arctic.”

Soon after, pilots flowed Dickens’ path and braved the journey through -40 temperatures without the help of a radio or weather reports. In 1936, the first landing strip for light planes was built.

The next 20 years, the expansion of longer runways took off starting with the Canadian Pacific Airways. By the Second World War, the United States Air Force built a runway, followed by the Pacific Western Airways. states:

air terminals and longer runways were built over the next 30 years by the Government of Canada with a permanent control tower commissioned in 1981 and a larger terminal opened in 1986 to accommodate 250,000 passengers a year. Our History | Fort McMurray International Airport

Fast-forward to 2014, the new terminal opened on June 9 with a $258 million price tag, which was contributed by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. With a total of 1,267 acres of land, it features four aircraft bridges and eight aircraft parking stands.

The Fort McMurray International Airport’s grand opening was historic and memorable to many locals, as the award-winning rock band Bachman-Turner Overdrive reunited after 20 years for the first time on the YMM’s Gala stage.

Guests were further wowed to learn the evening’s emcee was Canada’s first astronaut to walk in space – Colonel Chris Hadfield. World-renowned Canadian Forces Snowbirds also performed an aerial show throughout the weekend’s grand opening festivities. years later, the Fort McMurray International Airport remains the fastest way to get to Fort McMurray proper.

Because the airport is operated by the Fort McMurray Airport Authority – a local non-profit organization, it’s community-minded and it’s frequently hosting events and creating new ways to cater to the residents within the area.

It features free parking for those who choose to ‘Grab & Go’, which allows guests to eat and shop at the airport’s venues.

Most recently, the YMM Airport has partnered with the K9 Club House to provide Wood Buffalo residents with boarding services for their dogs. The ‘Bark n’ Park’ offer allows customers to receive 50% off on parking when flying out.

To learn more about the Fort McMurray International Airport, visit or check out their Facebook page for frequent updates and announcements.

Fort McMurray International Airport: An Overview was first published to

Around Town: Fort McMurray News (Week of July 6)

It’s time for another edition of our weekly column from the A-Team. Here is some important news for this week.

According to Deloitte’s Resource Evaluation and Advisory group, oil prices are expected to drop in the autumn, after hitting new highs this week:

Deloitte: Oil Prices Expected To Drop

He tells Mix News everything is great right now, however, this is usually when prices peak each year.

“We’re at the peak of where we are in June and July and I think we’re going to see things soften off in the fall, which is quite typical.”

“I don’t think it’s going to be quick, I think it’s something we’re going to slowly see and a build into 2019, so I don’t think it’s going to be a big surprise for producers.”

He adds the Syncrude outage is one of the big reasons for the increase in prices since supply is down and demand is still high. Via

Canadian oil prices are around $74 US a barrel currently, and expected to drop down to $62 per Deloitte’s predictions.

In other news, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo or RMWB has extended the deadline for the Census to July 31, according to Jenna Hamilton of My McMurray:

Census deadline extended to July 31

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has extended the census deadline to July 31.

The municipality wants to ensure all dwellings are counted, census takers will continue to go door-to-door.

According to the RMWB’s website the unofficial count is 111,498, the number is expected to fluctuate based on quality checks, shadow-population numbers and approval from the province.

The official number will be shared later this year. h/t

As of now, the unofficial count is 111,498 provided by RMWB. The final count will be released later this year.

Lastly, Trans Mountain has filed a construction schedule for the next 6 months for the expansion of its Alberta to B.C. pipeline. From Fort McMurray Today:

Trans Mountain outlines construction plans

The company says work has been underway since last fall at the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, B.C., and will continue along with additional work in the Lower Mainland.

It says it will begin this month to develop the Westridge Marine Terminal tunnel portal at Burnaby Mountain and relocate existing infrastructure to expand the Burnaby Terminal.

It also says work on a 290-km stretch of pipeline between Edmonton and Jasper National Park will start in August and include surveying, staking and flagging the right-of-way.

It says it will clear trees and vegetation in the area while taking measures to protect the environment with relocation of rare plants and by conducting wildlife surveys. read more at

The National Energy Board had already approved the 1,147-km pipeline within an approximately 150-meter-wide corridor.


That’s all for this weeks’ roundup. Check back on The A-Team blog for more news and updates on Fort McMurray.

Around Town: Fort McMurray News (Week of July 6) was first published to