Cultural & Health Issues

 How have the oil sands changed peoples’ lives?

Inevitably, any development on the scale of Alberta’s oil sands will profoundly affect the lives of humans who live in its lee. The sudden injection of hundreds of millions of dollars into local economies is rapidly changing rural lifestyles, sometimes for the better. Fort McMurray, once a sleepy outpost, is growing exponentially. Air quality downwind from refineries is diminished. Oil companies take pains to prevent tailings ponds from degrading surface and ground water. Even so, downriver communities report higher incidences of illness that so far have gone unexplained. Pipelines like the Northern Gateway would extend the influence of the oil sands across hundreds or even thousands of kilometers, introducing a level of industrialization heretofore unseen throughout rural Alberta. An oil spill along the large rivers or pristine coast of British Columbia coast would pose a dire threat to the subsistence of many native tribes.

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