Mere hours after it was introduced, Canada Post has withdrawn a surcharge it applied to parcels being shipped to Fort McMurray.
The surcharge, which was reportedly implemented quietly by the Crown corporation, drew the ire of Fort McMurray residents, who say they are being unfairly targeted for the perceived prosperity of the northern city and heart of the Alberta oilsands.
The surcharge was to be applied to all parcels being shipped from anywhere in Canada to Fort McMurray.
"As part of Canada Post’s competitive pricing structure for parcels, the corporation introduced a surcharge of $5 on incoming parcels to Fort McMurray following similar moves by others in the delivery business," stated Canada Post in a press release Monday afternoon.
"This has unfortunately caused concern and confusion in the market.
"As a result, Canada Post has withdrawn the surcharge. It was to take effect today for commercial customers and February 10, 2014 for all other parcels destined for Fort McMurray."
The corporation says it will continue to rely on its normal pricing mechanism going forward - meaning, no more surcharge.
The surcharge touched a nerve with residents in the northern city, including HuffPost Alberta blogger Theresa Wells:
For people in Fort McMurray it feels like this is about the "Fort McMurray Money Phenomenon". We have some experience with this, because when you live in a place where it is perceived that everyone makes a higher-than-national-average income many come looking to dip their hands into your pockets. But not everyone here has this higher income, and the impact of this surcharge, while some of it may hit us through online retailers and local businesses who have no option but to pass on this cost, will truly hit the family and friends who ship to us. It will be Nan in Newfoundland and Mom in Manitoba paying that extra $5 in the end, people who rely on Canada Post and who might well be unable to afford another $5 "surcharge".
Theresa Wells, from Fort McMurray.
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Fort McMurray, a.k.a. 'Oilsands City'
Stunning Population Growth
Fort McMurray, Alberta, has seen its population grow from 926 in 1951, to more than 60,000 today -- a growth rate of 70,000 per cent over 60 years. The city grew by 14,000 people, or 29 per cent, in just the 2006 to 2011 period. Source: <a href="http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/dp-pd/prof/details/page.cfm?Lang=E&Geo1=POPC&Code1=0292&Geo2=PR&Code2=48&Data=Count&SearchText=Fort McMurray&SearchType=Begins&SearchPR=01&B1=All&Custom=&TABID=1" target="_hplink">StatsCan</a>
Far More Men Than Women
Whereas in Alberta in general there are approximately 99 to 104 men for every 100 women, in Fort McMurray, where male-dominated oil jobs dominate, that ratio is skewed well towards men. There are 110 to 140 men for every 100 women in Fort McMurray, depending on the neighbourhood. Source: <a href="http://kcorreia.com/2011/fortmac-communities/" target="_hplink">Kevin Correia</a> <em>This caption has been corrected from an earlier version.</em>
Arm And A Leg For Housing
The average price of a two-bedroom apartment in April, 2011, was $2,152 -- comparable to major Canadian cities like Toronto and Vancouver. For those rates to be affordable, you'd need to earn at least $80,000 per year. But given that oil workers can earn as much as $120,000, that is, actually, affordable by Fort McMurray standards. Source: <a href="http://www.woodbuffalo.net/AboutCostIntro.html" target="_hplink">Wood Buffalo Regional Municipality</a>
Third Largest Oil Reserves In The World
Fort McMurray sits at the centre of what is now recognized as the third-largest proven supply of oil in the world. Alberta has 170.8 billion barrels of oil in the ground, about 12 per cent of the world's total. By comparison, Saudi Arabia has 260 billion barrels, and Venezuela 211 billion. The oil sands' share of that total continues to grow, and with it, Fort McMurray's importance to the industry. The city is expected to quadruple in size, to about 231,000, within 20 years. Source: <a href="http://www.energy.alberta.ca/oilsands/791.asp" target="_hplink">Government of Alberta</a>
Giant Job Machine
There are 140,000 people employed in Alberta's oil and gas extraction industry -- a very large number, considering the province's total population of 3.6 million. In all, energy counts for 23.4 per cent of Alberta's economy. Source: <a href="http://www.energy.alberta.ca/oilsands/791.asp" target="_hplink">Government of Alberta</a>
Now That's Cold
Classified as a sub-Arctic zone, Fort McMurray is bitingly cold, even by Canadians' standards. The average night-time low in January is minus-24 Celsius, or minus-11 Fahrenheit, though the average daytime high in July does reach a decent 23 Celsius (73 Fahrenheit). Source: <a href="http://www.theweathernetwork.com/statistics/CL3062693/caab0124" target="_hplink">The Weather Network</a>