Skip to content

WinterLife Award: Wood Buffalo, Alberta

by Seville Kwan
in Arts and Culture

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo was announced as the winner of the 2020 Communities in Bloom WinterLife Award. The WinterLife Award is an outstanding achievement award sponsored by Municipal World. It recognizes efforts and involvement in projects and initiatives that engage the community with indoor and outdoor activities from November through March.

Located in northern Alberta, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is home to an abundance of fun and interactive activities throughout the winter months.

To kick off the 2019 holiday season, the municipality hosted the annual Mayor and Councillors’ Holly Jolly Party. Residents enjoyed hot beverages, performances by local artists, and a tree lighting ceremony that signified the start of the Santa Claus Parade. In partnership with numerous organizations and volunteers, the evening parade featured festive floats, animated performers, and the arrival of Santa Claus in his big, red sleigh.

Transformative Incrementalism: A journey to sustainability

As residents prepared to welcome in the new year, thousands attended the fun-filled “Craze” event at MacDonald Island Park on New Year’s Eve. Known as Canada’s largest community recreation centre, event goers used the facility’s amazing amenities, which includes the rock-climbing wall, aquatic centre, ice rinks, racquetball courts, and field houses. The event concluded with a spectacular display of fireworks in the early evening.

Community Pride Strong: The Giving Season

Community pride is strong in the Wood Buffalo region, especially during the giving season.

The Christmas Lights Bus Tour, hosted by a local church, was enjoyed by attendees of all ages as family and friends toured neighbourhoods and marveled at festively lit homes. Donations were also collected during the event to support the local food bank.

The St. Aidan’s Society in Fort McMurray partnered with the Royal Canadian Legion to offer senior residents with a hearty warm meal, followed by a fun and festive bus tour of Christmas lights.

Led by youth in the region, Father Mercredi High School has coordinated the delivery of the Santas Anonymous campaign since 1984. Students and staff volunteered their time to fundraise and deliver food and toy hampers to families in need during the holiday season.

Winter on the Snye: Celebrate Cultures and Traditions

In the last stretch of the winter season, the municipality hosted the annual WinterPLAY Festival. The three-day festival celebrates the region’s rich history and is a great opportunity for residents of all ages to participate in various winter activities, such as snowshoeing, dog sled rides, and the Shootout on the Snye – a four-on-four pond hockey tournament. Nestled between two Canadian Heritage River Systems, the Clearwater and Athabasca, the Snye has been used by generations of Wood Buffalo residents for various winter activities.

Many of the surrounding rural communities also hosted their own winter festivals to celebrate and showcase their unique culture and traditions.

Community Togetherness: Moving Forward, Keeping Spirit Alive

As the upcoming winter season approaches, the lineup of community events will look different. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are seeking new ways to host their activities in a way that supports evolving health and safety guidelines. Although this year’s festive celebrations and recreational activities will differ from previous years, Wood Buffalo is working to keep community spirit alive and strong throughout the region.  MW

Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in Noha EI-Banna’s article: Innovation that works: Ideas Committee is inspiring change in Wood Buffalo. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.

Seville Kwan is a Coordinator in the Public Works Department with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Seville’s portfolio includes recreational and beautification-based projects that aim to enhance civic pride, community involvement, and quality of life throughout the region.

Related resource materials:

See All Feature Stories