TransCanada helps rebuild Slave Lake

Slave Lake Memory Banner (photo)

Memory banner (left to right): Slave Lake Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee, Alberta MLA Pearl Calahasen, Lesser Slave River MD Reeve Denny Garratt and Sawridge First Nation Chief Roland Twinn, sign the memory banner at the Disaster Recovery Fund launch event in Slave Lake. (Photo courtesy Becq Photography International).

TransCanada commits financial aid to help recreate a vibrant community in fire-ravaged Slave Lake.

TransCanada’s Community Partnership program has committed $250,000 to an industry-led disaster recovery fund that will help the northern Alberta community of Slave Lake continue to rebuild and revitalize following devastating wildfires that ravaged the community in May 2011, one of the most significant disasters in Canadian history.

“The recovery fund will reach beyond the scope of government and the Red Cross, to help Slave Lake recreate the vibrant and healthy community it once was,” says Peter Kruselnicki, Vice President, Stakeholder Relations. “Our investment will support the building of a new multi‐purpose, family‐oriented space that will create a positive legacy from the wildfires that had such a serious impact on us all.”

As currently envisioned, the proposed facility will be built on the site of the existing Elks Lodge, and include a daycare and playground, theatre & arts space, FireSmart information centre and a renovated Elks Lodge building. Along with several surrounding facilities, it will also have the potential to serve as a regional evacuation centre.

Jeanette Dame, Community Investment Advisor, attended the launch of the Disaster Recovery Fund at an event in Slave Lake on November 27, along with Mitch Starke, Operations Manager, Spruce Grove and representatives from Canadian Association of Pretroleum Producers (CAPP), each contributing company and local governing bodies.

TransCanada employees affected during the fire.

Fire storm forest fire (image)

Fire storm: The massive wildfires in the Slave Lake area were fueled by strong, gusty winds.

The home of Scott Tradewell, Control Technician, was burnt to the ground and homes belonging to two other TransCanada employees received smoke damage.

“My wife and I returned home from vacation to watch as our neighbour’s house went up in flames,” says Scott. “We knew our home would be next.”

So far, 150 homes, including Scott’s, have now been rebuilt.

“Our community is once again coming together. The town is really starting to look good now — more like a new construction zone rather than a fire-ravaged wasteland,” says Scott.

However, there is still a real need for essential services.

“My wife is a nurse at the hospital. Last year, five doctors left Slave Lake. Waiting for health care is a slow process.”

The collaborative effort.

Burned out Slave Lake police station (image)

Devastation: This is all that is left of the police station in Slave Lake, where half the town was destroyed by fire.

The Slave Lake Disaster Recovery Fund is a collaborative effort led by CAPP and 11 member companies, including Penn West, CNRL, Devon, Cenovus, Husky, ConocoPhillips and TransCanada. The fund is approximately $6.4 million.

A Management Committee made up from the 12 contributing companies and the Slave Lake Tri-Council has identified the new Community, Arts & Day Care Centre as the best use of the funds.

“A lot of rebuilding needs to take place. Health facilities are not operating at capacity and other essential services need support,” says Chris Pezoulas, Director, Wildrose Region.

“This is a remarkable example of the vision of TransCanada’s Community Investment program to be a community infrastructure leader and an opportunity to help to re-build a healthy, safe and vibrant community in Slave Lake.”