'Just hanging on': Alberta town's voters have economy on their mind
Residents of a small Alberta oil town say they’ll have the economy on their minds when they vote in next Tuesday’s provincial election.
Perry May, who rents heavy-duty equipment in Drayton Valley, says that a downturn in the oil sector has left him “just hanging on.”
Shari MacPherson, who runs a trucking company in the town southwest of Edmonton, says the economy is so bad she’s afraid she’ll lose her company.
Tim Cameron, an oil industry consultant, says that he’s only had six or seven days of work since early November.
It’s not just the oil jobs that are drying up in the town of 7,000 people. At Ryan Fynn’s hotel, record-low occupancy has forced layoffs.
“We had 13 fulltime employees who were getting their 40 hours a week and now we are down to four or five,” Fynn said.
They are all facing cutbacks as a result of lower oil prices and production cuts, exacerbated by a lack of pipelines to carry their products.
“We need our pipeline built,” May said. “We need access to markets.”
United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney has blamed NDP Leader Rachel Notley for the delay in getting a new pipeline built.
Notley says she expects the Trans Mountain project -- blocked by a federal court over improper consultation with First Nations -- will be approved by the end of May. In the meantime, she’s ordered rail cars to ship oil.
A new pipeline can’t come soon enough for Drayton Valley residents like Reeve Bart Guyon. “People are just really wondering, what do we do next?”