This release was issued under a previous government.

The land, known as the Urban Development Sub-region, will encourage housing in new communities, commercial ventures, vital infrastructure, and parks and recreational areas, as well as the jobs needed to further develop the fastest growing city in Canada.

The additional land, covering over 55,000 acres, will be available for sale to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, allowing Fort McMurray to expand to the east, south and west. The land is expected to meet the growth needs of the municipality for over 25 years.

“This is about creating an even better quality of life for the residents of Fort McMurray, a thriving community that is expected to more than double in population by 2030,” said Minister of Energy Ken Hughes. “We think it’s important that people call Fort McMurray home, and not just their place of work.”

The land made available was determined based on resource analysis, municipal growth plans, and consultation with First Nations and with stakeholders, including industry and the public. The region creates a balance of urban growth with responsible energy development, allowing for safe communities to be built and the local economy to prosper.

“The Urban Development Sub-region is incredibly important for future growth in our region,” said Melissa Blake, Mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. “It means stability in our housing market and a new world of business, cultural and recreational opportunities.”

Fort McMurray will become an even greater place to work, live and raise families. As land is allocated from the region over the coming decades, the province and the regional municipality is well equipped to coordinate future development with the province’s infrastructure planning. The UDSR also gives industry a long-term vision for future urban development in the area that is vital to their planning and investment in the area.

More information on the Urban Development Sub-region, including maps, can be found here.

Our government was elected to keep building Alberta, to live within its means and to fight to open new markets for Alberta’s resources. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for.

Backgrounder: Urban Development Sub Region

Media inquiries may be directed to:
Bart Johnson
Director of Communications
Alberta Energy

To call toll free within Alberta dial 310-0000.


July 25, 2013
Urban Development Sub-region

Fort McMurray is experiencing considerable urban population growth related to oil sands development. The city, surrounded by Crown land, needs a larger urban land base to accommodate new residential, commercial and light industrial growth.

The need to address this growth was identified by the province in the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (2012), the Comprehensive Regional Infrastructure Sustainability Plan (CRISP) for the Athabasca Oil Sands Area (2011) and Responsible Actions: A plan for Alberta’s Oils Sands (2009), Alberta's 20-year strategic plan for the oil sands. The need for additional land, as well as the regional municipality’s growth management strategy, were outlined in its October 2011 Municipal Development Plan.

The province and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo signed a Memorandum of Understanding in August 2011 to cooperate on the establishment of an Urban Development Sub-region.

The size of the Urban Development Sub-region is approximately 22,386 ha or 55,293 acres: more than double the size of Fort McMurray. This large land base allows room for coordinated long-term planning between the municipality and the province.

Consultations with stakeholders and First Nations

In addition to meetings with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, consultation sessions took place from September 2012 to January 2013 in the form of public engagement sessions and direct meetings. Input was sought on the boundary from local First Nations and stakeholders, including industry and the general public.

Lease Cancellation

Leases in the Urban Development Sub-region not compatible with urban development, such as oil sands leases and potential surface dispositions, will be cancelled and lessees will be compensated to make room for municipal expansion.

The province will work with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo at the time of land sale to review all other surface dispositions (i.e. those not associated with oil sands exploration and development). Replacement agreements will be negotiated for activities that are compatible with municipal development.

Holders of any surface and/or subsurface dispositions that are cancelled will be compensated per the Mineral Rights Compensation Regulation and/or the Public Lands Act.

There are currently 32 oil sands leases owned by 10 companies in the Urban Development Sub-region. These leases will be cancelled. There are also approximately 200 surface dispositions that may or may not be cancelled in the future. Government officials will be meeting with parties and working with them through the cancel and compensation process, which will begin immediately.

Next Steps

The sale of Crown land will be phased as the municipality grows over a period of time to coordinate land sales with planning for growing infrastructure needs. Land will be sold to the regional municipality and title to the land will be transferred under authority of the Public Lands Act.

More information on the Urban Development Sub Region, including maps, can be found here.



Media inquiries may be directed to:
Bart Johnson
Director of Communications
Alberta Energy

To call toll free within Alberta dial 310-0000.