The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) retained an interdisciplinary consulting team led by ParioPlan to complete the Fort McMurray Fringe Area Study. The study involved assessing six potential urban expansion areas around Fort McMurray to accommodate a future population of 250,000. The urban growth areas under consideration were adjacent to environmentally significant areas that included the Athabasca, Clearwater, Hangingstone and Horse River valleys. Planning principles that guided the study included avoiding environmentally sensitive areas and hazard lands; promoting higher density and more compact development; and striving for complete communities that would be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable over the long term.
The Consultants and Steering Committee developed a weighted evaluation matrix to establish priority rankings for each urban growth area. The Fringe Area study provides a blueprint for future urban expansion for private and public decisions makers involved in the planning and development of Fort McMurray’s fringe area. The results of the study are being implemented – priority growth areas have been incorporated into the Urban Service Area of the RMWB and more detailed area structure plans and servicing studies have been prepared. The Province has acted on the report’s recommendations by initiating development of the Parsons Creek area to include a mix of housing, commercial, community and health services, schools and recreation facilities. Planning has also started for development of the Saline Creek Plateau.