Is booming in the old home town
It's putting up sleek concrete
Tearing the old landmarks down
Paving over brave little parks
Ripping off Indian land again
How long, how long
Short sighted business men?
Ah, nothing lasts for long...
(Chinese Cafe - joni mitchell)
"You can say all the bad things you want about this town," challenged Jesse Brether, a Ft. McMurray Oil Sands worker. "You know what? For fifty dollars an hour, I'll deal with it... I'm making over a hundred thousand dollars a year, and I'm 22!"
Native groups who once thrived on the area's abundant natural resources are worried. While jobs have been created, and contracts have been awarded to native small businesses, the gains are overshadowed by reports of deformed fish and discolored meat in the wildlife. A local health board study found unusually high rates of cancers and other illness, although both the Alberta government and the oil companies dispute those claims.
But it's hard to dispute the area's vast deforestation as the Oil Sands have become the largest construction zone on earth. The huge swath of boreal - or coniferous - forest that has been removed is clearly visible from space, and locals worry about the long term ecological effect of the clear-cutting.