Will growth come at a cost to peace?

Latest research and survey results continue to show that Alberta is on the verge of yet another economic boom, once again being pushed by the oil investment, induced by the global recovery which continues to take small steps despite problems in the European Union.

On Monday, the results of a survey conducted among oilpatch employers were reported to have confirmed earlier expectations that even a modest growth in oil patch activity would require tens of thousands of new employees to meet the demand for new labor force by 2014.

Another report was said to have concluded that the demand for more manpower would emerge as early as the beginning of next year.

While the expectation of return to economic growth is most welcome, it is quite possible that this process will come laden with problems.

What one should probably expect is a kind of increased volatility in the communities as they will have to absorb newcomers into their midst and that might not always be smooth.

After the increase caused by high unemployment during the downturn, communities both large and small may have to face another wave of rising criminality.

I still remember how a friend had described the life in Fort McMurray about three years ago as not being much different in essence from what we saw in the western movies depicting life in post civil-war period in the United States.

I love that adage which financial advisors love to quote frequently: “No one plans to fail, but many fail to plan.”

Here the question is whether our provincial government and our municipalities are prepared and whether they are planning for a wide range of changes, some problematic like criminality, some more fortunate like increased property values.

Just taking a brief look at the crime bulletins published by RCMP detachments in this area over the last few weeks is enough to show that Albertan communities definitely have more than a fair share of criminality, from growing and trafficking of drugs to thefts, vandalism and assaults.

That is where the question needs to be asked: Will our communities have to pay a price in the form of their peace and tranquility in exchange for increased oil revenues?

One only hopes that our provincial and municipal governments will be foresighted enough to ensure that increased prosperity will not cost us our quietly harmonious every day lives.

— Mustafa Eric