Community and Stakeholder Relations

Chapter 4.2

Community and Stakeholder Relations

    Performance Highlights

    • Regulatory application for proposed Mildred Lake Extension (MLX) Project filed
    • Multi-stakeholder collaboration results in community sustainability roadmap
    • Over $6 million invested in community projects and initiatives

    Our Approach

    Syncrude aims to earn and maintain the support of our stakeholders by sharing information that enables understanding of our work. We seek ideas, input and feedback on our plans in a manner that fosters cooperation and mutual trust. We also participate in collaborative stakeholder processes that manage cumulative impacts and promote sustainable development. For employees, we are committed to communicating business-related information that helps them understand our goals, plans and performance, and do their jobs effectively. To promote the growth and well-being of the region where we live and work, Syncrude contributes to projects that enhance quality of life. For more details on our stakeholder engagement policy, visit our website.

    The effectiveness of our stakeholder relations program is managed through the Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS). It is stewarded regularly throughout the year at the executive level to ensure desired outcomes are achieved. An internal audit occurs each year, with an external audit conducted by a Joint Venture owner every three years. In addition, we follow the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) Towards Sustainable Mining protocol for Aboriginal and Community Outreach. This includes an internal assessment of our performance against the protocol each year, and external third-party verification, including stakeholder interviews, of this assessment every three years. Syncrude’s performance was verified at the top performance rating for 2013. Results are published annually on the MAC website.

    The effectiveness of our stakeholder relations program is assessed regularly to ensure desired outcomes are achieved.

    We regularly engage with a diverse cross-section of stakeholders, both locally and outside of our region. Their perspectives on our performance help us understand concerns and meet their expectations for responsible development, and are key factors when governments determine regulation and approval of our operations. Stakeholders include (in alphabetical order):

    • Academia
    • Employees
    • First Nations – Local
    • Governments – Local, Provincial and Federal
    • Industry Associations
    • Métis Locals
    • Owners (Syncrude Project Joint Venture participants)
    • Suppliers and contractors
    • Wood Buffalo residents, and other Albertans

    Examples of Syncrude’s direct engagement with stakeholders are referred to throughout this report. The following are some key additional highlights.

    Direct Stakeholder Engagement

    Mildred Lake Extension Project

    Syncrude announced in 2012 its intention to develop the Mildred Lake Extension (MLX) Project to sustain bitumen production levels after depleting our currently approved mining areas. Syncrude issued its proposed Terms of Reference for the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment in September 2013, and the Terms were finalized in December. We submitted our regulatory application in late 2014.

    Government Of Alberta

    Representing the Oil Sands Community Alliance (OSCA), a senior executive sits on the Athabasca Oil Sands Area Transportation Coordinating Committee, which reviews and makes recommendations to the Alberta government on the current and future transportation needs of the Athabasca oil sands region. The committee also includes representatives from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, the Alberta Economic Development Authority, the Fort McMurray Airport Authority, the Northern Alberta Development Council, and the Alberta Government. The committee issued a 2013 report that outlined a priority list of immediate low-cost options to maximize use of current infrastructure, as well as funding and governance options to address critical and long-term infrastructure priorities.

    Other engagement with the provincial government includes continued liaison with officials at Alberta Environment and the Alberta Energy Regulator regarding Directive 074 and our tailings management technology approach.

    Regional Municipality Of Wood Buffalo

    Syncrude, along with two other oil sands operators, engaged with the Municipality to advance a proposal for the development of an express bus lane entering Highway 63 from a Fort McMurray subdivision to enhance safety and ease traffic congestion. The proposal was successful and one bus lane is now operating; the other remains under discussion. We also regularly engage municipal officials on issues such as transportation, sustainability initiatives and taxation.

    Senior leaders contribute locally to the Regional Recreation Corporation Board, which ensures effective delivery of recreation and sports initiatives, and the City Centre Action Committee, which examines growth projections and development.

    Local School Boards And College

    Syncrude had discussions with representatives from the local education community to learn about program and infrastructure need and opportunity areas. The dialogue will help identify projects for Syncrude’s support through our community investment program.

    Syncrude employees also volunteer their time on major local boards. Kara Flynn, Syncrude Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs, serves as the Chair of the Keyano College Board of Governors, and Jeff Thompson, Business Controls Advisor, serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Fort McMurray Public School Board.

    Oil Sands Community Alliance

    Syncrude engaged with various stakeholders during the reporting period through our participation in the Oil Sands Community Alliance (OSCA), which is a non-profit, industry-funded association that works to foster responsible oil sands development. Syncrude provides leadership to OSCA at the Board and Committee level to identify, advocate and champion solutions on various issues related to the regional impacts of oil sands development. The four priority areas include workforce attraction and retention, community well-being, Aboriginal participation, and infrastructure.

    Kara Flynn, Syncrude Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs, serves as Chair of the OSCA Community Well-Being Committee. Peter Read, Syncrude Vice-President of Strategic Projects, is a member of the Infrastructure Committee. Syncrude employees also chair, or are active on, committees related to transportation, health care, municipal affairs, Aboriginal affairs, co-generation and transmission, and environmental and regulatory affairs.

    Significant work was accomplished in 2014, including collaboration with FuseSocial to develop the Wood Buffalo Strategy Roadmap which will help guide community sustainability. In addition, a Canadian Index of Wellbeing survey was conducted to gauge residents’ perceptions on community vitality, education, health care, environment, health, engagement, time use, and leisure and culture. Survey results can be found at the Canadian Index of Wellbeing website. Results will help inform local funding opportunities and areas of focus.

    Additional examples of ongoing stakeholder engagement can be found on our website.

    Community Investment

    Syncrude provides funds to support community activities that enrich the lives of our employees and the communities in which we do business. Our corporate giving is designed to help us continue to attract and retain qualified employees, to improve the quality of life where we operate, and to enhance corporate reputation. A complete overview of our corporate guidelines can be found on our website.

    Syncrude’s political contributions policy outlines our focus on donations towards fundraising activities that are generally open to the public, such as ticket purchase or table sponsorship. Only the Chief Executive Officer is allowed to authorize donations. In 2014, donations of $8,000 were made towards table purchase at two political leadership dinners.

    Over $6 million was invested in 2014, which included donations announced or continuing:

    • $2.48 million to the United Way of Fort McMurray, Edmonton and Calgary. Comprising employee and corporate contributions, this donation is the highest to the United Way in Syncrude’s history.
    • $2.5 million to Keyano College to support arts programming and consultation with Aboriginal communities on educational initiatives.
    • $500,000 to the Fort Chipewyan Elders Care Centre. The facility has 12 suites as well as a ward for palliative and respite care, cooking and dining facilities, and spaces for physician consultations, exercise, rehabilitation and spiritual activities.
    • $500,000 to the TELUS World of Science – Edmonton. Through this investment toward the Syncrude Environment Gallery, we intend to encourage dialogue about energy solutions and the complex issues surrounding environmental science by giving visitors first-hand experience with oil sands and information on the role of science in addressing environmental impacts. The gallery also features information on topics that include recycling, weather, geological sciences and alternative energy.
    • $285,000 to 81 local organizations through our Good Neighbours program. This program recognizes and encourages employees to engage in community volunteerism by awarding $500 grants to the organizations for which they volunteer. A total of $181,000 was awarded in 2014 to 81 not-for-profit organizations, and $104,000 in busing grants were awarded to support out-of-town travel.
    • $500,000 to the University of Alberta Hospital Foundation. Our investment will support the development of a Brain Imaging and Treatment Unit and the expansion of the Telestroke program, improving access to the hospital by patients from across Alberta and northern Canada.
    • $60,000 to organizations chosen by Syncrude employees and the local community. Each year, Syncrude dedicates a portion of our community investment budget towards a campaign which invites employees and local residents to select the charities they wish to see investments made. Based on votes received at a community trade show, local residents chose the KidSport Wood Buffalo to receive a donation of $10,000. For the remaining funds, employees voted on-line from a choice of 65 eligible community organizations. After arriving at a short-list, the final recipients were Fort McMurray SPCA, with a $25,000 donation, and the Centre of Hope, Fort McMurray Chinese-Canadian Cultural Society, Fort McMurray Victim Services and the Sanatan Mandir Cultural Society of Fort McMurray each receiving $5,000. The Cochrane Society for Housing Options and Beaumont Ringette Association each received donations of $2,500. All donations were in addition to Syncrude’s ongoing corporate community investments.
    • Investments to other initiatives and groups included:
      • $2 million n multi-year funding towards technology and facility upgrades at Fort McMurray public schools;
      • $2 million in multi-year funding to the Northern Lights Health Foundation to support women’s health and purchase of medical equipment for regional health care centre;
      • $480,000 over three years to Science Alberta to develop land reclamation resources for Alberta teachers;
      • $300,000 in multi-year funding to the local YMCA to enhance aquatic facilities;
      • $250,000 over two years to Wellspring Edmonton, a new centre for cancer patients undergoing treatment; and
      • $250,000 over two years to support the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games in Fort McMurray.

    Corporate Donations

    Student Summer Research Program

    Syncrude’s investment of $500,000 in the Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology (WISEST) program at the University of Alberta is opening minds and doors. The program provides Grade 11 students the opportunity to have hands-on experience in science-related fields. Said one student: “Your support is very much appreciated and important to me! I have been given the chance to work as a fellow research student in the National Institute of Nanotechnology and National Research Council building on campus. It is important to me to represent the under-represented gender as I am guided through this Summer Research Program.”

    Dana Mraz and Disha Patel, Photo: WISEST


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