How quickly things change. Back in 2008, City Planner Tracy Tester of Fort McMurray, Alberta, set up SafeGrowth training and program development for her Northern Alberta city. Tracey had been working on the idea for awhile and it finally came together.
A few years later all that hard work resulted in a city-wide Crime Reduction Plan approved by council in 2011. It was one of the first of its kind to adopt SafeGrowth.
A few years later student planner Jennica Collette, on assignment for Tracey, helped put a part of that plan in action and worked with a neighborhood to mobilize against crime. Jennica is currently a SafeGrowth Advocate who has blogged here.
All that stellar work by such dedicated change agents is now going up in flames! I am not being literary, but rather literal.
The city of Fort McMurray, surrounded by a dry northern Canadian boreal forest and a raging forest fire, is currently burning to the ground. Over 80,000 people have been evacuated and much of the city has been destroyed by fire.
Thankfully news reports say everyone was evacuated in time and no one is seriously hurt - including Tracey and Jennica. As Sue Ramsay described after the devastating Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand a few years ago, people are resilient. They will return and rebuild.
We send our condolences to Jennica, Tracey, their families (including some of mine who also fled the city) and all our Fort McMurray friends and family. May you find your way safely home to rebuild your city and your lives.