Minister Vandal unveils new PrairiesCan service location and federal investments in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo region

News release

More than $2.1 million for businesses and organizations across northeast Alberta

Over $2.1 million for Fort McMurray and area organizations announced at the newest PrairiesCan service location

February 3, 2023 – Fort McMurray, Alberta – Prairies Economic Development Canada

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is known for being at the heart of Canada’s energy sector and is a major contributor to Alberta’s economy. Fort McMurray and area are home to innovative entrepreneurs, growing businesses, hardworking Canadians, and rich Indigenous history and culture.

Today, the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan, officially unveiled a new PrairiesCan service location in Fort McMurray. This will bring PrairiesCan directly to the community to address the unique opportunities and priorities of the Fort McMurray - Wood Buffalo region and northern Alberta. The new office is currently located at Start-up YMM in downtown Fort McMurray.

Communities across the Prairies know how to best address their unique needs and priorities. That is why the Government of Canada is enhancing community economic development by opening seven new PrairiesCan regional service locations, including the new Fort McMurray location. It is now easier for local entrepreneurs, municipalities, Indigenous partners, community organizations, and others to tap into PrairiesCan services in their community.

As part of the launch, Minister Vandal announced $2,175,997 for six projects that focus on community revitalization, tourism and economic growth — and support for more than 50 jobs workers can depend on.

The six projects receiving funding today are:

Canada Community Revitalization Fund

  • The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is receiving $750,000 to upgrade the waterfront in downtown Fort McMurray into a community park and a venue capable of hosting a variety of public events.
  • Fort McMurray 468 First Nation is receiving $503,198 to build a cultural gathering space and community park.
  • The Regional Recreation Corporation of Wood Buffalo is receiving $223,000 to enhance recreational opportunities in MacDonald Island Park by installing three outdoor basketball courts and automated batting cages.

Tourism Relief Fund

  • Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development & Tourism is receiving $499,800 to create a large mobile exhibit that uses virtual reality to promote unique northern Alberta experiences for residents and tourists to explore in the Wood Buffalo region.
  • The Fort McMurray Heritage Society is receiving $99,999 to create a year-round outdoor market inside the Fort McMurray Heritage Village.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund

  • Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development & Tourism is receiving $100,000 to establish a training program and affordable commercial space in downtown Fort McMurray for home-based microbusinesses to better-reach potential customers.

These projects have a wide range of benefits, from attracting visitors to the region and enhancing the visitor economy, to providing targeted supports to help grow small- and medium-sized businesses, and creating accessible and modern public gathering spaces. Today’s investments continue to build the region’s vibrant economy, creating jobs and opportunities for Alberta workers.


“The Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo region plays a large part in Alberta’s prosperity, which is why our government is making investments so the region can continue to build on its strengths while creating and attracting high quality jobs Canadian workers can depend on. Our new PrairiesCan service location in Fort McMurray allows us to work with local partners and sharpen our focus on further strengthening the area’s economy. This is just one more example of how our government is working in partnership with communities on the Prairies and listening to their important insights to create new pathways for economic growth and respond to local priorities."
–The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan

“As a proud northern Albertan, I admire the resilience and innovation of Albertans in our region and their significant contributions to strengthening and further diversifying our economy. These announcements are part of Alberta’s commitment to work alongside our partners to build on our region’s strengths and ensure they are a part of the Renewed Alberta Advantage.”
–The Honourable Brian Jean, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development, Government of Alberta

“Supporting local businesses and economic potential while building a better place to live alongside our partners and communities is very important to us. We welcome today’s announcement in support of these six community projects and initiatives, as well as the opening of a new PrairiesCan service location in Fort McMurray. Our region continues to be a major driver of economic and social prosperity for everyone, and these investments recognize this positive contribution.”
–Sandy Bowman, Mayor, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

“Due to the funding provided by PrairiesCan, we can now utilize a portion of our Nation’s land to its fullest potential. The park will consist of a teepee-like structure with space to socialize underneath, giving our Nation Members a place to reconnect not only to each other but to our land and culture as well. This park is essential to our community, as no such infrastructure exists currently. Due to the overwhelming need for this park, we wanted to ensure that it will benefit our current Nation Members and future generations. To achieve this, we will be planting traditional plants to share teachings, and in doing so, we can ensure our culture and traditions continue to flourish for years to come."
–Chief Neil Cheecham, Fort McMurray 468 First Nation

“The Tourism Relief Fund project and the Micro-Business Pilot project funding comes at an important time for our region. Tourism Relief funding enables us to showcase Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo with a state-of-the-art virtual reality experience, allowing us to promote market-ready tourism experiences wherever we go. Funding for the Micro-Business Pilot program is a direct investment supporting local entrepreneurs and activating our downtown. I would like to thank PrairiesCan for their continued support for our region for not just these two projects, but for also making Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo a priority.”
–Kevin Weidlich, President & CEO, Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development & Tourism

“Thanks to the funding provided through the Canada Community Revitalization Fund, we have the opportunity to present some exciting new recreation options for members of our community. The new basketball courts and automated batting cages will create new ways for residents to gather, play and connect at MacDonald Island Park.”
–Graig Walsh, CEO, Regional Recreation Corporation of Wood Buffalo

Quick facts

  • In Budget 2021, the Government of Canada provided funding for Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) to transition into two new Regional Development Agencies: Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan), serving the Prairies; and Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan), serving British Columbia.

  • In August 2021, the Government of Canada officially launched Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) and announced plans to open seven new service locations across the Prairies: Fort McMurray, Lethbridge and Grande Prairie in Alberta; Regina and Prince Albert in Saskatchewan; and Brandon and Thompson in Manitoba. 

  • These seven new service locations are in addition to PrairiesCan headquarters in Edmonton, and existing offices in Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Ottawa, and including the expansion of our Calgary satellite office. These new offices will significantly extend our reach to better service our clients.

  • This enhanced community-based approach addresses the specific circumstances and needs of these communities and their surrounding regions, and includes a range of local organizations from different sectors as active participants in economic development.

  • The new PrairiesCan office is currently located at Startup YMM in downtown Fort McMurray.

Associated links


Kyle Allen
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Rohit Sandhu
Communications Manager
Prairies Economic Development Canada

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