04/26/2017 14:17 EDT | Updated 04/26/2017 14:21 EDT

Fort McMurray mayor doesn't foresee big population shift after wildfire

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake says she's not expecting last May's wildfire to have much of an impact on the Fort McMurray area's long-term population.

Blake says that before the fire, the municipality was expecting growth of between one and three per cent over the next five years and she's not expecting that to shift much.

She says the downturn in oil prices and resulting layoffs had already caused the population to shrink in the oilsands region.

Blake says some residents may have not come back since the fire, but others are being attracted by a surge in construction activity as homes are rebuilt.

The mayor says the city estimates a current population of about 73,500 — not far off from 2016's pre-fire federal census numbers.

In 2015, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo said it had a permanent population of almost 82,000 and a transient worker population of more than 43,000.